Gaza: Forced Displacement or Genocide for Palestinians

Palestinians collect their usable belongings under debris after Israeli airstrikes destroyed buildings in Rafah, Gaza on October 12, 2023 (photo: Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency).

In the midst of the ongoing Israeli onslaught on Gaza, whereby the Israeli authorities are being accused of actions tantamount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and potentially genocide, the international community by and large remains unwilling or unable to provide humanitarian aid and ensure the safety of the local Palestinian population.

When placed in the context of recent history, it appears to be a continuation of a grim Israeli policy: the forced displacement of Palestinians from their own land. This isn’t just happening through mere intimidation; it’s the result of violent military offensives and more 17 years of a devasting siege on the Gaza Strip that have resulted in the forcible displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians, plunging them into unimaginable suffering.

The current Israeli offensive has in less than a week already created hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, and the occupation state has just announced that more than 1 million people should leave their homes in Northern Gaza within less than 24 hours which will result in further misery and displacement.

What’s even more damning is the array of tactics used during the Israeli bombing campaign. These include targeting civilians and their homes, using illegal weapons such as white phosphorus and other weapons that cause disproportionate and indiscriminate damage, and issuing ineffective “warnings”. They have stripped Palestinians of any form of protection.

The evidence is unequivocal. It paints a picture of international crimes being committed, a blatant violation of the Rome Statute. Furthermore, these actions can be seen as part of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population, a direct contravention of international law. These actions aren’t the result of rogue Israeli individuals; they are part of official policy endorsed by the Israeli government, the political establishment and military leadership.

While the UN and numerous countries are urging the creation of humanitarian relief passages for the civilians in Gaza, there are also calls, particularly from the US and countries allied with the apartheid state, for the establishment of passages to transfer Palestinian residents from Gaza to Egypt. This blurring of responsibilities has raised concerns about a concealed plan to displace the people of Gaza.

Taking into consideration the fact that Israeli ministers have been discussing and planning the forcible displacement of Palestinians to Egypt since 1967, this current attempt does not come as a surprise.

The international community must recognise that any attempt to relocate Palestinians under the guise of ensuring their safety effectively constitutes a new chapter of the ongoing Nakba. States that support Israel are, knowingly or unknowingly, complicit in enabling the international crime of forced population transfer. The dire need for humanitarian corridors in Gaza would not exist if it weren’t for the relentless occupation and aggression, including alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel, with the implicit support of influential Western nations.

Countries not directly involved in the conflict have a moral and legal duty to secure safe shelters for Gaza’s residents

It is essential to draw a clear distinction between providing vital humanitarian aid and creating pathways for civilian transfers. Moreover, countries not directly involved in the conflict have a moral and legal duty to secure safe shelters for Gaza’s residents during these hideous Israeli attacks. International law mandates that such shelter must be located within the occupied territory, ensuring safety, health, security, nutrition and family unity, and must be of a temporary nature, with the ultimate goal of returning the population to their original homes once hostilities cease.

The calls from Israel and the United States to open passages to Egypt do not align with the responsibilities dictated by international law for providing safe shelter during wartime.

Furthermore, these calls seem to have an immediate objective of creating a facade of humanitarianism, while the ultimate strategic goal remains the creation of a new catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.

As such, it is incumbent upon the Israeli regime and the nations supporting it in the potential genocide to cease their actions rather than attempting to displace the population of the Gaza Strip, which explicitly violates international law. The global community, including the UN, international agencies and countries not actively involved in the conflict, must act swiftly to establish urgent humanitarian relief corridors and reject any plans for the forced relocation of Gaza’s residents.

If it’s left up to Israel, it will give the Palestinians two options: forced population transfer or genocide. Israel is committing its atrocities openly, proudly and remorselessly.

Every human being with a conscience needs to ask him or herself one simple question: do I stand on the side of oppression and occupation, or do I support humanity, justice and freedom? Remember, silence equals complicity.

Amjad Alqasis holds a LL.M. in international public law and is a legal researcher and a member of the NAS Network for Advocacy Support of BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights.

( Source: Republished under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License from Middle East Monitor ).

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