An international refugee charity has called on all parties to urgently cease hostilities in the besieged Gaza Strip and work towards an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians affected by the fighting.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) made the remark in a statement on Sunday, following Israel’s attack on the impoverished coastal enclave which began two days ago, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.
“Every single escalation of violence in Gaza comes at the cost of ordinary people, who pay the highest price for military actions. We urge all parties to protect civilians by all means, put an end to hostilities, and work towards an immediate ceasefire,” NRC’s Middle East Regional Director Carsten Hansen said.
“Innocent children and families have been caught up in the vicious circle of violence for as long as they can remember. Many in Gaza are still recovering — both psychologically and physically — from last year’s eleven-day crisis,” he added.
Hansen further noted that the repeated cycles of violence “only entrench the conflict further, without addressing its root causes including lifting Israel’s 15-year blockade of Gaza and ending its occupation of Palestinians.”
The NRC chief further urged parties to declare a ceasefire at once, pointing out that international law prohibits the use or threat of force, except in self-defense.
“Under international humanitarian law, an occupying power can only use lethal force against civilians as a means of last resort when facing an imminent threat of death or serious injury. Pre-emptive strikes, like the ones launched by Israel, are inevitably acts of aggression, and may amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, including willful killing or causing of serious injury to body or health,” it said.
It also stressed that under international humanitarian law, all parties must take all necessary precautions to protect civilians and refrain from targeting civilians and civilian objects.
The Israeli regime launched a devastating offensive against the Gaza Strip on Friday. So far, at least 31 Palestinians, including children, have been killed and nearly 250 others injured.
Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza before it struck on Friday, crippling the territory's lone power plant and reducing electricity to around eight hours per day, with health officials warning that hospitals would be severely impacted within days.
In response to the brutal Israeli airstrikes, Palestinian resistance forces fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli-occupied territories, setting off air raid sirens and sending settlers running to bomb shelters.
The Islamic Jihad called the retaliatory barrage only an “initial response” to the Israeli bloodbath, with the Palestinian resistance movement’s Secretary General Ziad al-Nakhalah saying the Israeli enemy must expect a “non-stop” confrontation in the wake of the aggression.
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