Amidst Israel’s ongoing blockade of the besieged region, a team of independent United Nations (UN) experts expressed their dismay on Thursday, denouncing the relentless airstrikes against Gaza as a form of “collective punishment.” The death toll in the area had climbed past 1,300 as the war entered its sixth day.
On Thursday, Israel firmly stated that it would not permit any humanitarian relief for the Gaza Strip until all of its hostages were released. This decision came after the Red Cross made an appeal to allow fuel into the region to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and turning into makeshift morgues.
Israel had pledged to eliminate the Hamas governing body in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. This attack involved a significant incursion by hundreds of armed individuals who breached the barrier fence and wreaked havoc in Israeli towns.
According to public broadcaster Kan, the death toll on the Israeli side had risen to more than 1,300 since the events of that Saturday, with the majority being civilians who were either shot in their homes, on the streets, or at a dance event.
Furthermore, numerous Israeli and foreign hostages had been taken back to Gaza. In response, Israel had placed the territory, housing 2.3 million people, under a complete blockade and had initiated a highly destructive bombing campaign, resulting in the destruction of entire neighborhoods.
The Gaza authorities reported that 1,354 individuals had lost their lives, and 6,049 had been injured due to the bombings. The sole power station had been shut down, and hospitals were running out of fuel for their emergency generators.
Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz made a solemn pledge that his country would not permit essential resources or humanitarian aid to enter Gaza until Hamas released the hostages it had taken during its surprise weekend attack on Israel.
This came after the United Nations (UN) called for the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged region. In his statement, he declared, “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electric switch will be turned on, no water tap will be opened, and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home.”
Condemning the “horrific crimes committed by Hamas,” the group of independent UN experts also criticized Israel for resorting to “indiscriminate military attacks against the already exhausted Palestinian people of Gaza.” They emphasized that these people had endured an unlawful blockade for 16 years and had already weathered five major brutal wars, which remained unaccounted for.
The group, consisting of various UN special rapporteurs, insisted that this situation amounted to collective punishment, asserting that violence targeting innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces, had no justification. Such actions were unequivocally prohibited under international law and constituted a war crime.