SOS Alert - Gaza
The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention is issuing a SOS alert for Palestinians in Gaza following Israel’s demands that over 1 million Palestinians evacuate northern Gaza within 24 hours. This past week, thousands of leaflets were disseminated by the Israeli government, warning Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate to the southern territory. The Israeli military also issued a warning to the United Nations to evacuate 1.1 million Palestinians from Wadi Gaza within 24-hours in preparation of a ground offensive.
The United Nations immediately informed Israel that they “consider it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences” and that the UN “strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, called the UN’s appeal “shameful,” accusing the UN of ignoring the brutality of Hamas’ attacks on Israel.
Meinie Nicolai, the General Director of Doctors Without Borders, has also openly condemned Israel’s 24-hour evacuation demand, stating “Israel’s 24-hour notice that people in northern Gaza must leave their land, homes, and hospitals is outrageous - this represents an attack on medical care and on humanity. We have consistently seen dehumanising language and this violence is a manifestation of that. We are talking about more than a million human beings. ‘Unprecedented’ doesn’t even cover the medical humanitarian impact of this. Gaza is being flattened, thousands of people are dying, this must stop now.”
Further complicating the evacuation of Palestinians from Gaza are the heavy restrictions that the Israeli government has placed on Palestinians within the Gaza Strip. These barriers to movement have been a common tool of oppression used by Israel and include the requirement of travel permits out of occupied territories that are issued by Israel’s government following a lengthy and arbitrary application process and a government-funded 40-mile long barrier wall around the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the IDF has issued a warning to all Palestinians in Gaza that any people who get “too close” to this wall risk being killed. Within Gaza, Palestinians fleeing attacked regions are being targeted by the Israeli military which has led to more civilian deaths. Furthermore, Palestinians cannot evacuate from Gaza to safety outside of the occupied territory, essentially making them sitting ducks for further airstrikes and attacks from Israel.
Telling Palestinians to evacuate to other parts of Gaza is also an act of cruelty in light of the total siege announced by Israel earlier this week. Gaza has been cut off from all access to water, food, fuel and electricity. Israel has further blocked humanitarian aid from safely being sent to Gaza. Depriving civilians of basic necessities, access to safe living conditions, and adequate medical care is a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions and international law. It is also a precursor to genocidal violence, which has already been documented throughout occupied Palestine before and after Hamas’ October 7 attacks.
To date, 338,000 Palestinians have been forcefully displaced from their homes due to Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza. This forced displacement is the most recent recapitulation of genocidal violence in Israel’s long history of forcefully displacing Palestinians. International peacekeeping organizations, including the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, have already warned Israel that their retaliatory attacks against Palestinian civilians are inhumane and illegal, and are worsening an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Lemkin Institute warns that without immediate peacemaking efforts, the international community will oversee and be complicit in genocide in Gaza.