Smoke and fire rise from buildings as people gather amid the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli strike on Gaza City on October 26, 2023, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal to all parties involved in the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip and Israel, calling for an immediate ceasefire. The human rights organization emphasizes the necessity of this action to prevent further loss of civilian lives and to allow crucial humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Over the past few weeks, the conflict has escalated dramatically, resulting in significant casualties and a humanitarian disaster.

The Gaza Strip, home to over two million people, has been particularly hard-hit. According to Amnesty International, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 6,546, including a substantial number of children, with more than 17,439 injured. In Israel, over 1,400 individuals have been killed, and thousands injured. Hamas' actions, including taking over 200 people hostage, have been a contributing factor to the crisis.

Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Agnès Callamard, stated, "We have witnessed immeasurable horror in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Amidst unprecedented destruction and suffering, humanity must prevail." The organization emphasizes the need for urgent actions to protect civilians and mitigate the appalling humanitarian suffering.

The attacks began on October 7th when Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups launched an offensive from Gaza into southern Israel. Thousands of rockets were fired, and cross-border incursions were reported, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. In response, Israeli forces bombarded Gaza, leading to the high civilian death toll, with thousands more injured and many bodies still buried under the rubble. Amnesty International also warns of the potentially catastrophic consequences of a possible Israeli ground invasion into Gaza.

Amnesty International, along with other UN officials and human rights bodies, urgently calls for a ceasefire to enable the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Hospitals in the area desperately need essential medicines, equipment, and water. "A ceasefire is vital not just for immediate humanitarian relief but also as the most effective way to protect civilians from ongoing rights violations," Callamard added.

Besides urging for a ceasefire, Amnesty International demands that all parties cease actions that violate international humanitarian law, such as indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians. They call on Israel to end its 16-year illegal blockade of Gaza, allowing unfettered access to humanitarian aid and ensuring the entry of an independent investigative commission into Gaza.

Furthermore, Amnesty International is pressing the International Criminal Court (ICC) to continue its investigation into potential war crimes committed by both Israeli forces and armed Palestinian groups. The organization has gathered evidence of war crimes and is advocating for the continuation of independent, impartial investigations to ensure justice and compensation for victims, and ultimately to dismantle the apartheid system against Palestinians by Israel.

In conclusion, Amnesty International appeals for an international arms embargo against all conflict parties due to continuous serious violations of international humanitarian law. It also calls for the immediate release of civilian hostages held by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups and for Israel to release all arbitrarily detained Palestinians. The ultimate goal is to address the underlying injustices and human rights violations fueling the conflict.