Swords of Iron

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Swords of Iron is the name of military attacks carried out by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in response to Hamas's complex cross-border attack named al-Aqsa Flood, in southern Occupied territories of Palestine. Since Hamas launched its lightning attack on southern Israel on October 7, Israel unleashed the full force of its firepower on besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – more than 21,000 people have now been killed and the death toll rises almost every hour. The Israeli military launched "Operation Swords of Iron" against civilians within the Gaza Strip.

All-Out Assault on Gaza

Israel's response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has endured a crippling siege since 2007, as well as ordering over one million Gazans in the northern strip to evacuate to the south.[1]

The Israelis have attacked residential and military areas in the Gaza Strip since the day of Al-Aqsa storm operation. Cutting off water and electricity, bombing residential areas, killing civilians, women and children, bombing medical staff and hospitals, and using prohibited weapons were some of the actions Israel used during the confrontation with Hamas forces. After days of airstrikes, the Israeli military has ordered the Palestinians in Gaza City and its surroundings to move to the south of the territory. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday that the relocation of Gaza residents from the north to the south as ordered by the Israeli military is extremely dangerous. “Moving more than 1 million people across a densely populated warzone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous – and in some cases, simply not possible.”[2]

It is also said that depriving all Gazans of the most basic requirements for survival amounts to collective punishment: every man, woman and child suffers, whether or not they are engaged in hostilities in any fashion.

Palestinian Civilian Causalities

Civilian victims are burring in mass grave in Khan Younis, Southern Gaza, November 22, 2023

Since Hamas' attack on Oct. 7, Israel has continued relentless attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 29,878 Palestinians and injuring 70,215, according to local health authorities. Until 2024 February 28, the Palestinian death toll from the ongoing Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip has climbed to 29,878. The victims include 12,300 children and 8,400 women, while at least 70,215 other people were injured. More than 7,000 are already missing. Thousands of people are still trapped under the rubble in Gaza, including children.[3] Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip for a 16th day in a row as the besieged Palestinian enclave faces a growing humanitarian catastrophe. Here are the latest casualty figures as of October 24, 2.40 pm local time (11:40 GMT).

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), declared more than two million people are currently crowded into the southern Gaza Strip with nowhere else to go. Continuing to implement bombing policy will almost certainly result in the killing of thousands more civilians. In these circumstances, Israel must immediately stop implementing this policy, which is sowing more and more death and destruction, and worsening the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.[4]

Massacres in Gaza

Palestinians evacuate two wounded kids following Israeli air raids on Gaza City, on October 25, 2023.[5]

On October 17 2023, the Israeli Zionist Regime targeted the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. The attack led to the martyrdom and injury of over 500 defenseless and homeless patients, mainly women and children.

Israeli air attack on Jabalia refugee camp

On October 31, the Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes in the devastated areas of the Jabalia refugee camp (the largest of several refugee settlements) in northern Gaza. The strikes resulted in the destruction of buildings in a densely populated area. According to Palestinian authorities, at least 195 civilians were killed, mostly women and children and there are still many people missing.[6]

The strikes at the Jabalia camp have fuelled international concern at the mounting humanitarian toll of Israel’s offensive. Following the airstrike, the Office of the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, Volker Turk said in a tweeted statement that the scale of the destruction and the high number of civilian casualties aroused "serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes."[7]

In footage of the scene after the strike on Jabalia, residents can be seen standing around large craters in the earth and piles of rubble as rescuers scramble to locate survivors under collapsed buildings.

Following the extensive bombing and the ongoing loss of life among children, women, and civilians in Gaza, widespread protests erupted aimed at the Israeli government. Among them were the speeches of the UN Secretary-General while he was condemning Hamas, who said: "Those appalling attacks by Hamas cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people," he emphasized: "Even war has rules." He also appealed to everyone to pull back from the brink before the violence claimed even more lives and spread even further.[8]

Destruction of Religious Sites

Yassin Mosque bombed in Gaza
St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza destroyed under Bombardment

The Israeli army has destroyed more than 200 archeological and ancient sites out of 325 that were registered across the Gaza Strip in the course of its devastating onslaught since Oct 7, 2023. The sites include ancient churches, mosques, schools and museums and other different historical and archeological sites and monuments. The ancient and archeological sites destroyed by the army date back to the Phoenician and Roman ages, others date back between 800 BC and 1,400, while others were built 400 years ago."[9]

"Al-Omari Grand Mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in the Gaza Strip, was extensively destroyed in Israeli attacks." The medieval Omari Mosque was founded more than 1,400 years ago with an area of about 4,100 square meters. Earlier its minaret was destroyed in Israeli artillery attacks.[10]

Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza which originally founded in 425 CE, believed to be the third oldest church in the world. It was named after 5th-century Bishop Porphyrius, who shepherded the Christian community in Gaza 1,500 years ago whose tomb rests in the northeastern corner of the church. There are three churches in Gaza, the Gaza Baptist Church, the Holy Family Catholic Church, and St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church which is the only Greek Orthodox church in Gaza.[11] The church, characterized by thick walls and a richly decorated interior, has long been a place of refuge and community for its members, who are a religious minority in the Gaza Strip.[12] On Thursday night, October 19, St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza was bombed while providing shelter for an estimated 500 Palestinians who were seeking shelter from the Israeli bombings. Most were Christians.[13]

International Political Reaction

The Palestinian father holding his son, who was martyred in the Israeli bombing, and crying

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard addressed Israeli officials and said: “The Israeli authorities must immediately restore Gaza’s electricity supply and suspend the increased restrictions imposed as a result of the Minister of Defence’s order of 9 October 2023 and lift its illegal 16-year blockade on the Gaza Strip. The collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population amounts to a war crime – it is cruel and inhumane. As the occupying power, Israel has a clear obligation under international law to ensure the basic needs of Gaza’s civilian population are met,”.[14]

Chinese Foreign Minister said Israel’s actions go beyond self-defense and called to avoid collective punishment of Gaza people. Wang Yi said China opposes and condemns all acts that harm civilians, as they violate basic human conscience and the fundamental principles of international law. He also called on Israel to avoid collective punishment of the people of Gaza.[15]

Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, has stated the need for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, the result of which, in his opinion, should be the creation of an independent Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem. He stated: "Their [the negotiations] goal should be the implementation of the UN ‘two-state’ formula, which provides for the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, coexisting in peace and security with Israel."[16]

Campaign To Boycott Israeli Goods

In different parts of the world, people are demanding the Boycott of Israeli goods through campaigns. Moreover, during a meeting with the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran urged some Islamic countries to stop exporting oil to Israel.[17]

Severance and recall of diplomatic relations

Following the civilian massacre in Gaza, Colombia took decisive action by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel and ejecting its ambassador.[18] Furthermore, the Libyan government expelled ambassadors from the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and Italy, citing their governments' support for the Zionist regime.[19] The Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran echoed similar sentiments during a meeting with the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, advocating for the expulsion of Israeli ambassadors from Islamic countries. In Türkiye, leaders of the Saadet and Future Parties have also urged the severance of Ankara's relations with Tel Aviv and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Türkiye.[20]

Shia Figures Condemned Israel's War Crimes in Gaza

Sayyid Ali Khamenei denounced the Israeli forces' assault on Gaza in his speeches. Likewise, Sayyid Ali Sistani, a prominent Shi'a authorities in Najaf, condemned the attack through an official statement. Other religious authorities, such as Hussein Nuri Hamedani, Nasir Makarim Shirazi, Ja'far Subhani, and 'Abd Allah Jawadi Amuli, also voiced their reactions in solidarity with Palestinians and condemnation of the Israeli aggression.[21]

Ayatollah Khamenei unequivocally labeled the Israeli killings of Palestinians as a clear case of genocide. He called for the trial of the Zionist regime and an immediate halt to the bombardment of Gaza. Additionally, he held the United States government accountable for the policies of the usurping Zionist regime.[22]

South Africa's Genocide case against Israel

Protesters demanding to stop Genocide in Gaza

South Africa filed the lawsuit end of December, accusing Israel of genocide in its war on Gaza and seeking a halt to the brutal military assault that has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, nearly 10,000 of them children.[23]

South Africa’s case in The Hague argues that Israel violated the 1948 genocide convention, established in the aftermath of the Holocaust, which mandates that all countries prevent the recurrence of such crimes. It filed an 84-page document with the court detailing acts it says amount to genocide in Gaza.[24] The suit was filed to the ICJ on Dec. 29. The ICJ is the main judicial body of the United Nations, which settles international disputes among member states and answers requests for advisory opinion on legal questions.[25]

The Gaza Strip has experienced a shortage of resources since, with hospitals and churches subject to airstrikes, and limited international aid coming into the enclave. The Organization of Islamic Countries, made up of 57 nations, in addition to tens of other countries—including Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil—have voiced their support of the case.[26]

South Africa has accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention which defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Genocidal actions listed in the suit include the killing of Palestinians in Gaza in large numbers, especially children; the destruction of their homes; their expulsion and displacement; as well as enforcing a blockade on food, water and medical assistance to the strip. South Africa has also specially requested that the ICJ move urgently to prevent Israel from committing further crimes in the strip – likely by issuing an order for Tel Aviv to halt its invasion. That request will be prioritised, the ICJ said in a statement, but did not specify a timeline.[27]

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to take action to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians, though it did not call on it to immediately stop its military campaign. The court did not rule at this stage on the core of the case brought by South Africa – whether genocide has occurred in Gaza – but an overwhelming majority of its 17 judges presiding over the case voted on January 26, 2024, for emergency measures to be implemented.[28] The ​UN’s international court of justice has ordered Israel to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, in a historic decision. In an interim judgment delivered on Friday, the president of the court, Joan Donoghue, said Israel must "take all measures within its power" to prevent acts that fall within the scope of the genocide convention and must ensure "with immediate effect" that its forces do not commit any of the acts covered by the convention.[29] The court adopted “provisional measures,” or binding orders, that include requiring Israel to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.[30]

Rallies in Support of Gaza

Around 100,000 demonstrators hold up flags and placards during a pro Palestinian demonstration in London, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across the Middle East and in parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States in support of Palestinians and condemnation of Israel Zionist Regime as it intensified its strikes on Gaza in retaliation for Hamas attacks a week ago.[31]

Thousands of protesters poured onto the streets of several Middle East capitals Friday in support of Palestinians amid Israeli air strikes on Gaza in reprisal for a surprise Hamas attack.[32] People in Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria, Moroco, and other Muslim countries came to streets condemning Israeli aggression and supporting people of Palestine.

In London, more than 200,000 marched through the streets of London on Saturday to condemn the horrifying Israeli crimes committed in Gaza.[33] and other European Capitals rallies were held in support of Palestine.

Attempts for Ceasefire in United Nation

Humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza

On Wednesday, October 25, the United State's resolution called for a humanitarian pause to allow humanitarian aid access, the protection of civilians, and a stop to arming Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip vetoed by Russia and China. After the failure of the US resolution, the Security Council voted on a Russian-drafted text that called for a humanitarian ceasefire and withdrawal of Israel’s order for civilians in Gaza to relocate south ahead of a ground assault. It was Russia’s second attempt[34] at a resolution but it was not adopted as it failed to secure a sufficient number of votes in favor.[35].[36]

Key differences in the text included a specific mention in the US-backed proposal of the States’ inherent right to self-defense and a call in the Russian-led one for the immediate cancellation by Israeli forces of the evacuation order for civilians to head into southern Gaza.[37]

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday, October 27, adopted a resolution calling for an "immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce" between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza. It also demands "continuous, sufficient and unhindered" provision of lifesaving supplies and services for civilians trapped inside the enclave, as news reports suggest Israel has expanded ground operations and intensified its bombing campaign. It also calls for the "immediate and unconditional release" of all civilians held captive as well as demanding their safety, well-being, and humane treatment in compliance with international law.[38]

On 8 December 2023, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Friday morning New York time to discuss the "catastrophic situation" in Gaza. The United States for the third time vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, ensuring its failure. Britain abstained, but the other 13 members of the council, including close U.S. allies such as France and Japan, approved the measure. The resolution was introduced by the United Arab Emirates and had 97 additional sponsors among the total U.N. membership.[39].[40]

Reginal reaction to Israel's War crimes in Gaza

Hezbollah's clash with Israel in southern Lebanon

On the second day following the Hamas operation, Hezbollah in Lebanon issued a statement expressing support for the move, asserting that they targeted three positions of the Israeli regime's army. Furthermore, on the third day, in response to the killing of several of its forces by Israel, Hezbollah aimed rockets and projectiles at two Zionist bases. The conflict between Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Zionist regime is ongoing.[41]

Closing the Red Sea for Israeli ships

After the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, the Houthi movement in Yemen declared that they would target Zionist ships in the Red Sea. On November 19, 2023, they captured a commercial ship called 'Galaxy Leader' in the Red Sea. Rami Ungar, an Israeli merchant, owns the ship. Yemeni armed forces confirm that "they will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza stops".[42]

Attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria

In the aftermath of Israel's offensive on Gaza and the tragic loss of civilian lives, Iraqi resistance groups have directed their actions toward American bases in both Iraq and Syria. According to statements from group officials, these operations serve as a direct response to the substantial financial, military, and political backing that the United States provides to the Zionist regime. The continuation of these attacks is contingent upon Israel discontinuing its assaults on Gaza. As per information from a defense official (Reported: December 22, 2023), from mid-October onward, bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have experienced at least 102 incidents of attack.[43]

See Also

Furthur Reading

Notes

  1. Palestinian death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza reaches 2,329
  2. Relocation of Gaza residents extremely dangerous: UN chief
  3. The latest death toll stands at 11,697 Palestinians and at least 1,200 people killed in Israel since October 7.
  4. Israel is not fighting against Hamas but against civilians, implementing a criminal policy of bombings [EN/AR/HE]
  5. Photo by Abed Khaled/AP Photo.
  6. No place of refuge: Israeli strikes hit camps in Gaza
  7. Ibid
  8. Amid Increasingly Dire Humanitarian Situation in Gaza, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Hamas Attacks Cannot Justify Collective Punishment of Palestinian People
  9. Israeli army destroyed more than 200 archeological sites in Gaza: Report
  10. Israel destroys oldest, largest mosque in Gaza.
  11. What We Know about St. Porphyrius Church that Israel Bombed in Gaza
  12. Historic church sheltering civilians struck in deadly Gaza City blast
  13. What We Know about St. Porphyrius Church that Israel Bombed in Gaza
  14. Israel must lift the illegal and inhumane blockade on Gaza
  15. FM says Israel’s actions go beyond self-defense, calls to avoid collective punishment of Gaza people
  16. Putin supports creation of independent Palestine with capital in East Jerusalem
  17. Amir Abdullahian: We demand an immediate and complete boycott of the Zionist regime by Islamic countries (Persian)
  18. Colombia expels Israeli ambassador
  19. Libya expelled the ambassadors of a number of countries supporting Israel
  20. The leaders of two political parties in Türkiye proposed to expel the ambassador of the Zionist regime of Israel. (Persian)
  21. The reaction of the religious authorities to the crimes of the Zionist regime (Persian)
  22. Iran's Khamenei says Israel must halt assault on Palestinians in Gaza
  23. Which countries back South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at ICJ?
  24. ICJ hears South Africa’s genocide case against Israel over Gaza war
  25. What to Know About South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel
  26. What to Know About South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel
  27. Can South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel stop war in Gaza?
  28. ICJ orders Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza
  29. UN court orders Israel to ensure acts of genocide are not committed in Gaza
  30. Gaza: World Court Orders Israel to Prevent Genocide
  31. Tens of thousands rally around the world in support of Israel and Palestinians
  32. Thousands protest across the Middle East in support of Palestinians
  33. London: Hundreds of thousands march in support of Gaza
  34. Russia's first attempt on October 16 received the support of five council members.
  35. Two more resolutions to halt Israel-Gaza war fail at UN Security Council
  36. The Middle East, including the Palestinian Question: Vote on Competing Draft Resolutions
  37. Gaza crisis: Deadlock deepens as Security Council rejects competing resolutions by US and Russia
  38. UPDATING LIVE: General Assembly adopts Gaza resolution calling for immediate and sustained 'humanitarian truce'
  39. U.S. vetoes U.N. cease-fire resolution; aid system in Gaza near collapse
  40. US vetoes resolution on Gaza which called for ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’
  41. What is Hezbollah? Lebanon's armed group supporting Hamas in its war with Israel
  42. Yemen’s Houthi capture ship on suspicion of Israeli connection
  43. US troops-in Iraq and Syria have faced over 100 attacks since October 7

References