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Advocacy Messages: The current humanitarian situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories

zurück Max Freundlieb

Our advocacy messages on the current humanitarian situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories outline key humanitarian concerns of Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe which receive insufficient attention in the political discourses we observe. These messages are informed by the experiences of our partners in Gaza and Israel who continue to deliver humanitarian assistance to people in need under the most-difficult and dangerous conditions. As a principled humanitarian actor, the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence limit when and where we can be loud. And when and where we cannot be quiet.


Aerial view of collapsed buildings and destruction in the Gaza Strip (October 2023)

Aerial view of collapsed buildings and destruction in the Gaza Strip (October 2023) © UNRWA Photo 2023 (Ashraf Amra)

  • International humanitarian law was created to ensure that war has limits and warfare is subject to rules: civilians and other protected persons must receive the maximum possible protection during military activities. Since the atrocities by Hamas and affiliated armed groups on October 7th, 2023, over 28,000 deaths and 70.000 injuries have been documented on both sides, per UN OCHA and largely based on numbers by the Hamas-controlled Gazan Ministry of Health. UNRWA reports 1.9 million displaced persons, over 75% of the population, in the Gaza Strip, and the latest IPC report assesses 387.000 to be in the most severe stage “catastrophe/famine” (IPC-Phase 5). These numbers make it painfully obvious that civilians bear the brunt when conflict parties fail to uphold their humanitarian obligations.


  • Civilians have the right to humanitarian assistance and conflict parties must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief that is proportional to the needs of the civilian populations. Current procedures for screening aid to Gaza delay or prevent the entry of life-saving humanitarian assistance at the scale urgently required for over two million civilians. The limited access of humanitarian actors to affected populations in Gaza, especially in the North, further restricts that humanitarian assistance reaches all civilians in need.
  • Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe reiterates its call for humanitarian pauses and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance, which - while imperative to prevent more civilian deaths and limit suffering - is not being permitted under the current conditions. The necessity for humanitarian pauses and corridors reflects the lack of respect by the conflict parties for their humanitarian obligations during their military operations.
  • People in Israel have been fearing for 128 days for the lives of their relatives and friends taken as hostages by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and affiliated groups on October 7th. International humanitarian law unequivocally prohibits hostage taking, wherefore all hostages must be released immediately. Civilian live and dignity are never bargaining chips and must be respected at all times during armed conflict.
  • Throughout Gaza, safe zones for civilians do not exist. Mothers, fathers, and children do not know where to turn to for safety. Civilians in Gaza, the Westbank and Israel should never have to live in constant fear of being a military target. UN OCHA reports 70.000 housing units as destroyed or uninhabitable and an additional 290,000 units as damaged by the hostilities, meaning that over 500,000 people in Gaza have no home to return to.
  • Humanitarian aid seeks to save lives and alleviate suffering. Accusation of involvement of UNRWA staff in the terrorist attacks on October 7 must be thoroughly investigated, as any participation fundamentally violates these humanitarian objectives. We welcome UNRWA's swift response to the allegations and the investigations carried out by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. At the same time, UNRWA is the actor that can provide protection and assistance at scale to the civilian population in Gaza under the current circumstances. The suspension of funding for UNRWA by donors such as Germany must not further restrict the access of civilians to urgently needed humanitarian aid in the current catastrophic situation in Gaza.
  • Due to repeated attacks on medical facilities in Gaza, only 14 out of 36 hospitals are partially operational, yet suffer from an acute shortage of all essential supplies, including antibiotics and anesthetics, as well as medical staff. The limited or absent access to essential health services, including for sexual and reproductive health, disproportionately affects women and children. In the face of a record number of displaced persons, the lack of clean drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and malnutrition, there is a high risk of the rapid spread of diseases, including diarrhea, chickenpox, and upper respiratory infections. The protection, operation, and provision of medical facilities must be given the utmost priority to prevent further loss of life and alleviate suffering.
  • Humanitarian actors and their infrastructure are targeted at an unprecedented rate in this armed conflict. Over 150 humanitarian workers have lost their lives within the last weeks. Humanitarian workers enjoy special protection under international humanitarian law because they represent the slightest slimmer of hope for civilians caught between the frontlines. Humanitarian workers are never a target.
  • Hope for a better future for Israel and the Palestinian territories has rarely been as elusive as today. In response to the atrocities committed by Hamas and affiliated groups on October 7, Israel has the undeniable right to self-defense. War excerpts a horrific toll on humanity, people lose their families and friends, they treat gruesome injuries and struggle against torture and rape. Children lose their childhood and often their future. Respect for international humanitarian law not only protects innocent lives during armed conflict but also serves as the first step towards peace by preventing that conflict-related atrocities and hate obstruct the path towards reconciliation

Readers, especially those suffering directly from the armed conflict, might be disappointed by the messages for not being louder or clearer. Please get in touch to share your view or ask questions!