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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Gaza: Continued violence is not the answer

28 October 2023

Palestinians react at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 26, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Delivered by

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk

Last night’s bombardment and ground operations in Gaza by Israeli forces were reportedly the most intensive yet, taking this terrible crisis to a new level of violence and pain. Compounding the misery and suffering of civilians, Israeli strikes on telecommunications installations and subsequent Internet shutdown have effectively left Gazans with no way of knowing what is happening across Gaza and cut them off from the outside world.

We remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The bombing of the telecommunications infrastructure places the civilian population in grave danger. Ambulances and civil defence teams are no longer able to locate the injured, or the thousands of people estimated to be still under the rubble. Civilians are no longer able to receive updated information on where they can access humanitarian relief and where they may be in less danger. Many journalists can now no longer report on the situation.

We lost contact with our colleagues in Gaza last night. Our colleagues had already endured days and nights under the incessant bombardment of Gaza. They lost families, friends and homes in strikes that have killed several thousands in a mere three weeks and razed complete neighborhoods across Gaza. There is no safe place in Gaza and there is no way out. I am very worried for my colleagues, as I am for all civilians in Gaza.   

When these hostilities end, those who have survived will face the rubble of their homes and the graves of their family members. Inflicting wounds and trauma on hundreds of thousands of people does not help anyone.

The humanitarian and human rights consequences will be devastating and long-lasting. Thousands have already died, many of them children. Given the manner in which military operations have been conducted until now, in the context of the 56-year-old occupation, I am raising alarm about the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza and the potential for thousands more civilians to die.

Continued violence is not the answer. I call on all parties as well as third States, in particular those with influence over the parties to the conflict, to do all in their power to de-escalate this conflict, and to work toward the goal where Israelis and Palestinians can fully enjoy all human rights and live side by side, in peace.

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In Geneva

Ravina Shamdasani + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected]
Jeremy Laurence + 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected]

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