The inhumanity of Israel’s assault on Gaza

While the world has moved its eyes toward Iran and elsewhere, Israel’s indiscriminate attacks and killings continue in Gaza. More than half of Gaza’s population is crowding in the southern tip of Rafah and despite international pressure, Israel is still threatening a ground offensive in the area which would have catastrophic consequences for civilians. A UN expert has already said there are reasonable grounds that genocide is being committed in Gaza. The question remains how Israel can be allowed to continue this mass destruction and killing of civilians in front of the world’s leaders? 

At least 34,000 Palestinians have been killed of whom 70 percent are women and children. An estimated 6 000 of the women who have been killed have left 19,000 orphan children behind. The reports about how a doctor saved an unborn child from her mother’s womb who died from an Israeli air strike is a horrible reminder of the unbearable situation. The suffering and the long-term consequences are immense and those responsible for the ongoing atrocities must be held accountable.  

Despite all, Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations continue to support people in need and report about the desperate and unhuman situation. A new report by our partner organisation Women’s Affairs Centre and UNDP mapped the impact of the war on displaced women in the Gaza strip. Almost 96% of the women who participated in the survey report that they are not able to maintain basic hygiene, as they have no access to menstrual products and face great challenges accessing water. Women witness that there is no privacy, almost 37 % live in tents in the streets and open areas, 31 % live in overcrowded UNWRA schools. 99 % experience fear, anxiety and panic attacks, 98 % are unable to sleep, 85 % feel numb… The numbers go on and behind numbers and percentages are people living in conditions no one should have to experience. The dire situation impacts women’s safety and sense of dignity and there is also an increased risk of gender-based violence as in all conflicts.  

The report states that no place and no one is safe in Gaza.  

Members of the Israeli army are also participating in and posting videos on social media that try to sexualise and violate the dignity of women in Gaza. Images of Israeli soldiers playing with women’s lingerie found in Palestinian homes that have been bombed are published in attempts to humiliate and degrade the Palestinian people. This showcases not only how sexual and gender-based violence continues to be weaponized in war but also how sexism is often deeply embedded in institutions like the military. 

Israel’s violations and attacks on Palestinian civilians must come to an end. The attacks undermine the common values stated in international laws aiming to protect our common humanity, advancing peace and human rights. Hence an immediate lasting cease-fire must be put in place and hostages released. The US decision to give more military aid to Israel at this stage is very regrettable. Instead, governments must refrain from exporting weapons and ammunition to Israel if they are serious in their calls to save civilian lives.  

More violence will never lead to a peaceful future. Kvinna till Kvinna and our partners work for a non-violent end to the occupation and the apartheid system by the Israeli state that effectively hinders a sustainable peace as true peace and security can’t be built on the systemic oppression of one people.