New report from ActionAid and Oxfam: International community must prevent further actions by Israel to forcibly displace Palestinians

  • Date: 08/04/2024
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

A new report highlights how six months of Israel’s devastating military assault on the Gaza Strip has precipitated a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and the forced displacement of nearly two million Palestinians within the besieged enclave.

Read the report “Compelled to Flee” here.

The report from ActionAid and Oxfam, titled “Compelled to Flee”, says while Palestinians have experienced a long history of mass forced displacement, the current onslaught in Gaza is unprecedented in terms of violence and levels of displacement, raising clear concerns that serious violations of international humanitarian law and atrocity crimes are being committed on a vast scale.

The report also highlights and expresses concern over Israeli plans to expel Palestinians en masse from Gaza.

Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland, said:

“Israel’s devastating military assault on the Gaza Strip – deemed by the International Court of Justice to constitute a risk of genocide – is completely unprecedented. Over 75% of the population has been displaced, many multiple times. Israel has orchestrated the destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including essential services and facilities. Together with the imposition of severe restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid, it has rendered Gaza unliveable.”

Ms Balfe continued: “Israel has also taken actions that exacerbate the effects of forced displacement – many of which also amount to war crimes, including attacking civilians, launching indiscriminate attacks, starvation and collective punishment. This is a human made and entirely avoidable crisis. The international community must move immediately to bring it to an end.”

“Israel has a history of dispossessing Palestinians. The failure to hold Israel to account for decades of Palestinian dispossession has created an environment in which Israel acts with increasing impunity. Nations bear legal and moral obligations to protect civilians, prevent atrocity crimes and uphold international law.”

Oxfam Ireland CEO, Jim Clarken, said,

The horror of a planned ground offence on Rafah looms large. Governments must actively prevent any action by the Israeli government that could extend or legitimise forced displacement of Palestinians within the occupied territories, including any ‘evacuation plans’.”

He added: “Israel has been clear about its plans to clear Gaza and thankfully world leaders have rejected this. This must be followed with further measures – particularly to address forcible transfer, which is likely to have already occurred inside both Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The US, for instance, has not demonstrated any inclination to shift from a policy of unconditional military support for Israel, even when its apparent ‘red lines’ are crossed.”

If Israel will not change course, then the international community must use every tool it has to demonstrate to Israel that its illegal actions will not be tolerated. If the people of Gaza do not die from the bombings, they could die from hunger. We need an immediate and lasting ceasefire and the opening up of all border crossings allowing in life-saving aid.”

Forcible Transfer

The report said the displacement in Gaza is likely to constitute “forcible transfer” which is a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and which is defined as both a war crime and a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The report also says since 7 October there has also been a dramatic increase in settlement building and in the severity and regularity of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, accelerating displacement.

UN figures show that between 7 October and the beginning of March there were 603 settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank resulting in casualties and property damages with 1,240 Palestinians from 19 herding communities displaced as a direct result of settler violence.

The report calls for:

  • A full, immediate and unconditional ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.
  • Any actions or policies by the Israeli government that could legitimise or lead to the ongoing or extended forced displacement of Palestinian residents to be opposed.
  • All possible steps to be taken to ensure that all displaced Palestinians within Gaza and the West Bank are permitted to safely return to their usual place of residence as soon as hostilities in those areas cease.
  • Ensure that all essential aid, including water, food, medicine and fuel be allowed into Gaza immediately to meet the needs of the civilian population, including the specific needs of women, children, elderly people and people with disabilities.
  • Demand that Israel complies with international law by ending the military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the 16-year closure and blockade of Gaza.
  • Ensure the full participation of Palestinian women’s and young people’s organisations in humanitarian funding decision-making processes and
  • Prompt, thorough and effective investigations by qualified and independent bodies, including judicial and non-judicial accountability mechanisms, of all alleged violations of international law in the context of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  

Read the full report here.

Pictured: camps for internally displaced people in the south of Gaza. Photo by ActionAid

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