Statement: NRC urges protection of civilians amid rise in hostilities

from Norwegian Refugee Council
Published on 26 Mar 2019 View Original

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning struck a house in the town of Mishmeret, about 32 kilometres north of Tel Aviv, injuring seven people, including three children. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel would respond forcefully to the attack. None of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip has claimed responsibility.

“Time and again Israeli and Palestinian children bear the brunt of the violence, which beyond any physical scars, also leaves them emotionally damaged,” said NRC’s Palestine Country Director, Kate O’Rourke. “We urge all responsible parties to the conflict to show restraint and ensure the protection of civilians.”

Palestinian armed groups must immediately stop indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. Israel has the right to defend itself when under attack, but its response must never collectively punish, deny basic needs, nor use unwarranted lethal force against Gaza’s protected population.

This latest escalation in hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip comes at a time of high tensions as the Great March of Return mass protests along the perimeter fence with Israel approach one year.

There has been a staggering increase in Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip in the context of the demonstrations and related events. According to the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry, Israeli forces killed 34 children in the context of the Great March of Return demonstrations in the nine months between 30 March and 31 December 2018. The Commission found a further 1,642 children sustained physical injuries.

Successive hostilities over the past decade have impacted communities in Gaza and Israel, including three major Israeli military operations, along with repeated Israeli airstrikes and incursions, against Gaza and continued indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups on Israel. There is still time now to avoid further escalation and prevent suffering and loss of life.

“Gaza, like the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, desperately needs a just and lasting political solution, including for Palestine refugees, which places the lives, welfare and dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis at its centre,” said O’Rourke.