Update on UN response to Israeli destruction of Palestine


Synopsis of data as of November 29 from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Situation in Gaza

As of 29 November, nearly 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) were sheltering in 156 UNRWA installations across all five governorates of the Gaza Strip, including in the North and Gaza City.  The average number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters is 9,500, more than four times their capacity. Around 1.8 million people (or over 80 per cent of the population) have been displaced across the Gaza Strip since 7 October.

(Editor’s note: The definition contained in Article II of the UN Convention describes genocide as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.)

Palestinians moving within the Gaza Strip during the humanitarian pause, 27 November 2023. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Ashraf Amra

In the Gaza Strip, on 27 and 28 November, 160 bodies were recovered from the rubble, according to the Government Media Office (GMO) in Gaza. The office reported that, since the start of hostilities, more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including about 6,150 children and 4,000 women.

As of 29 November, 111 UNRWA colleagues have been killed since the beginning of the war

As of 29 November, UNRWA was able to verify that 104 incidents have occurred at 82 UNRWA premises since the beginning of the war. Thirty installations were hit directly and 52 sustained collateral damage. In addition, UNRWA received reports of the military use of its facilities on at least five occasions

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Since the beginning of the conflict, at least 218 internally displaced people sheltering in UNRWA schools have reportedly been killed and at least 894 have been injured.

Situation in West Bank

In the West Bank, According to OCHA, since 7 October, 238 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed by the Israeli Forces in the West Bank. In addition, eight people, including one child, have been killed by Israeli settlers. 

Medical and psychological emergency in Gaza

On 29 November, nine (out of 22) UNRWA health centres were still operational in the Middle and Southern areas, recording 10,312 patients visits, including Palestine Refugees and non-refugees.

UNRWA teams, including 196 social workers in the shelters, provided psychosocial first aid and other specialized protection services to IDPs. Since 7 October, 81,102 people (over 60 per cent of whom are females) have been reached. UNRWA school counsellors in collaboration with other organizations reached around 375,000 children with recreational activities.

Lack of food, drinking water and sanitation in Gaza

UNRWA distribution of flour outside of shelters continued on 29 November in the southern governorates. A total of 30,222 families have been reached so far.

UNRWA continues to operate eight water wells pumping about 9,000 cubic metres to provide potable and domestic water supply. Potable water trucking operations to the shelters in Rafah and Khan Younis areas continue.

Provision of potable water through tankers of Coast Municipalities Water Utility started to have the shelters provided with potable water in Rafah.

Solid waste collection from the camps, emergency shelters and transfer to landfills continues in the Middle, Khan Younis and Rafah areas. About 45 loadings were transferred to temporary dumping sites on 29 November.  There is an urgent need for additional sanitation trucks and vehicles.

Colombia: Cinema, historical memory and culture of peace


An article from Seminario Voz

From November 24 to December 8, the Peace Cinema Festival will take place, with the screening of more than 30 cinematographic pieces, including feature films and short films, that give an account of the New Colombia that has arisen after the signing of the Peace Agreement, an event that just turned seven years old

Organizing team of the Peace Cinema Festival. Photo courtesy

The festival gathers audiovisual works, documentaries, fictions, animations, including short films and films that contain the voice and image of the fight for peace and the construction of historical memory from various latitudes of the country and the world.

Through alternative, community and popular cinema, in its first version, the Peace Film Festival brings together social, cultural organizations, creators, directors, cultural and social leaders, producers of the audiovisual and popular communities of the world and the country, who shoot films for peace. Through cinema and audiovisuals, with their faces and hands, farmers, workers, rural communities and organizations from sidewalks and neighborhoods, tell their stories of memory, peace, resistance and transformation.

Stories about people

The festival brings together a selection of more than 30 cinematographic works that give an account of the new Colombia that has arisen after the signing of the Peace Agreement with the FARC-EP, as well as the cultural context for a new narrative of the conflict and peace. It presents the roots and seeds from popular and alternative cinema for the construction of memory, the search for reconciliation and non-repetition, as well as presenting the historical causes and demands that have given way to the construction of peace.

In this first installment of the Peace Film Festival, between November 24 and December 8, cinema raises its voice for historical memory and the culture of peace, through spaces of training, dissemination and circulation that seek to strengthen the storytelling of communities of their own stories. Its epicenter is in Bogotá, in different iconic cultural and social spaces, born from historical social struggles and demands for peace and social justice.

Jessica Santacruz, organizer of the Peace Cinema Festival, describes how this project was born from the need for a space that brings together cinematographic pieces that tell about peace from the territories and from their own worldviews: “We want to make films to imagine a better country. “It is necessary to recognize the struggles of the people and to promote the structural transformations that the country requires.”

Tell the other side of the coin

The programming of the festival includes public training spaces, forums, workshops, dialogues and projections around memory and peace. Cinema shows the hope and transformations that peace allows, as well as its challenges. It is a trench in the struggle for peace in Colombia.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question for this article:

Film festivals that promote a culture of peace, Do you know of others?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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Jennifer Castañeda and Natalia Monroy are co-directors of “16 de Mayo,” a short documentary film that narrates the events that occurred in 1984 at the National University of Colombia. It is based on the testimony of Elizabeth Díaz and Luis Higuera, who talk about the eviction by State agencies of the resident students, an event that fractured the Colombian student movement and the country’s education system. This film is projected within the framework of the audiovisual creation laboratory with which the festival began.

The directors highlighted that “these spaces for meeting and dissemination are vital for the audiovisual production of historical memory of the conflict. They enable us to work on projects that transcend social networks. Every time we project our films in scenarios like these, we receive different perspectives of the public that make us reflect on different moments in history.”

“Being filmmakers is not an easy job, but we look for a way for history to come to light. In our case, by working collectively, we recognize each person’s expertise, respecting artistic freedom and channel it into fruitful work,” say the directors.

For their part, William Ospina, director of “La Promesa,” and its producer Sara Chacón, speak about the stigmatization produced by a sector of the country that wants to perpetuate the war and which makes it difficult to tell the other side of the story.

Another star film in the selection is “Colombia In My Arms” (2020) by Finnish directors Jenni Kivistö & Jussi Rastas, which has won an international award and will be released in theaters in the country for the first time. This and other films of 24 frames per second, tell stories of emotions, joys and dramas, the magic that only cinema has to take us to the past, wake us up in the present and ground us in the future.


A film debate “Women, Cinema and Palestinian Resistance” was held, also within the framework of the Peace Film Festival and the 25th International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The debate included Isabel Rikkers, a member of the collective, along with Tadamun Antimili, who spoke about the importance of creating more spaces for pedagogy and activism to make the genocide against the people of Palestine visible. “There is a denial of the conflict, like what has happened in Colombia. We cannot allow half the people to hate the other half,” said Rikkers.

In this way the festival tells a story that can only be done by popular hands, hands of communities that tell their own history, owners of their own memory and transformers for the new Colombia and another possible world.

Five, four, three, two, one, action! For the culture of peace and historical memory! Action for another possible country that is filmed with a camera in hand, day by day, with images that smell and taste of dignity, neighborhoods, countryside and revolution for peace.

The Peace Cinema Festival is projected as one of the most representative cultural stages of the Seventh Art for Peace. Through popular alternative cinema it strengthens the collective cause of festivals throughout the Colombian territory that are committed to life, to the defense of human rights and social justice.

This project is also possible, thanks to the support of the Cultural Transformations for Peace process, the Casa Cultural Alternativa, the Partido Comunes and the Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación.

Female resilience in traditional African oral literature (Sociotexte journal)


An article from Fabula

Studies assembled and coordinated by Béatrice Kakou Assi, Department of Modern Letters, UFHB, Abidjan-Côte d’Ivoire.

Contrary to popular belief, the genres of traditional African oral literature are not fossils of our current literature and human sciences. Nor are their themes intended to be relegated to the residue stage of outmoded civilizations. On the contrary, traditional oral genres are anthropological universals and indicators of social mutations. They thus help to problematize the progress of man, in the sense that Seneca understood it, in the form of processual stations. They also help to understand and perfect human societies.

This is why Amadou Hampathé Bâ recommends that man “constantly return to the story during significant events in his life”[1]. Therefore, tales, legends, proverbs, myths, and other corpora relating to oral traditions – here, particularly African – should be read as authoritative sources for current issues: sustainable development, ecology, climate and the environment, human rights, the culture of peace and conflict management, the protection of biodiversity, women’s struggles, etc.

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(Click here for the original in French.)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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This last theme about feminine and feminist discourses in an oral and traditional African context validates the relevance of this thematic call from the journal Sociotexte. It will be a question of reflecting on the resilience of female and/or feminist figures in our oral texts, whether they are illustrious by their fame or anonymous by their invisibility. Contributions should therefore include:
– The struggle of women in tales, myths, legends and epics

– Figures of women, resistant or revolutionary

– Maxims and proverbs to the advantage of a shining image of women

– (Ancient) stories of the power of women (the myth of the mother goddess for example)

– Model figures for current feminist movements

– Stories of protection, celebration or deification of the “woman-mother”.

– Rebellions and revolts of women against the conventional places and roles assigned to women (warrior women or Amazons, etc.)- The female-male

– The mother or single woman (single, widowed or divorced)

Proposals are received at the following address:

The deadline is set for February 16, 2024.

— [1] Amadou Hampaté Bâ, Petit Bodiel, NEI/EDICEF, 1987, p.86.

English bulletin December 1, 2023


In the month following our last bulletin which documented solidarity actions with the Palestinians of Gaza in the face of Israeli genocide, the Israelis intensified their destruction of Gaza, destroying many of its hospitals. These and other actions constitute war crimes according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the countries of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) and Israelis Against Apartheid.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk declared Wednesday, November 8, that “the collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts… to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians.” Türk’s comments came after he visited the Rafah border crossing that connects Egypt to Gaza, which he described as “the gates to a living nightmare—a nightmare where people have been suffocating, under persistent bombardment, mourning their families, struggling for water, for food, for electricity and fuel.” Long before October 7, when a Hamas-led attack killed over 1,400 Israelis and triggered Israel’s retaliation, Gaza was “described as the world’s biggest open-air prison… under a 56-year occupation and a 16-year blockade by Israel,” he highlighted.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres —who has also been pushing for a cease-fire—called out Israel’s aerial and ground operations for their impact on civilians during a Reuters conference on Wednesday, November 8. “We have in a few days in Gaza thousands and thousands of children killed, which means there is also something clearly wrong in the way military operations are being done.” He said Gaza was becoming “a graveyard for children.” According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the Israeli war against Hamas has already killed over 4,300 children.

Amnesty International, on October 20, wrote that Israeli attacks on Gaza caused mass civilian casualties and must be investigated as war crimes. ““In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They have pulverized street after street of residential buildings killing civilians on a mass scale and destroying essential infrastructure, while new restrictions mean Gaza is fast running out of water, medicine, fuel and electricity. Testimonies from eyewitness and survivors highlighted, again and again, how Israeli attacks decimated Palestinian families, causing such destruction that surviving relatives have little but rubble to remember their loved ones by.”

Human Rights Watch, on November 14, wrote that “The Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport are further destroying Gaza’s healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that at least 521 people, including 16 medical workers, have been killed in 137 “attacks on health care” in Gaza as of November 12. These attacks, alongside Israel’s decisions to cut off electricity and water and block humanitarian aid to Gaza, have severely impeded health care access. The United Nations found as of November 10 that two-thirds of primary care facilities and half of all hospitals in Gaza are not functioning at a time when medical personnel are dealing with unprecedented numbers of severely injured patients. Hospitals have run out of medicine and basic equipment, and doctors told Human Rights Watch that they were forced to operate without anesthesia and to use vinegar as an antiseptic.

Following an extraordinary BRICS summit  on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, convened by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and held via videoconference. November 21, 2023, Ramaphosa said “Israel’s actions clearly violate international law, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Convention. The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the illegal use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to Gaza residents amounts to genocide.” His demand for a ceasefire was echoed in statements from the presidents of Russia, Brazil and China.

Israelis Against Apartheid, a group representing more than 1,500 citizens, this week  urged  the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor “to take accelerated action against the escalating Israeli war crimes and genocide of the Palestinian people” in Gaza. “Israeli military personnel and journalists are now openly calling for ethnic cleansing and genocide,” their letter adds. “It is evident that Israel is disregarding the lives of civilians in Gaza, ordering them to evacuate vast areas even as there is no safe place in Gaza to which people can flee.”

How can these war crimes be stopped? This question is considered in a related blog this month.


UN Rights Chief Says Israel’s Collective Punishment in Gaza Is a War Crime


Mercosur without Racism: Brazil will propose a campaign at a meeting of ministers from the bloc


The 3rd Edition of the Biennale of Luanda THEME: “Education, Culture of Peace and African Citizenship as tools for the sustainable development of the continent”


UNESCO: How can young people become actors of peace?



Secretary-General Tells Security Council Open Debate ‘Standing with Women Is Good for the World’, Stresses Patriarchy ‘a Massive Obstacle’ to Culture of Peace


Mexico: XIX World Congress and XXIII National Mediation Congress 2023


1,500+ Israelis Urge ICC Action on ‘War Crimes and Genocide’ in Gaza


Feasibility Proposal for the Creation of a Ministry of Peace for Colombia

Israel-Palestine: The Role of International Justice


An article from the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe

In the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, international justice is being summoned, with several complaints lodged at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the 7 October attack by Hamas in Israel and the response by Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza.

Public hearings have also been set for February 2024 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the “legal consequences arising from Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” within the framework of a request for an advisory opinion prior to the current conflict, emanating from the United Nations General Assembly.

Complaints filed so far include:

° Reporters Without Borders (RSF) submitted a complaint on 31 October to the ICC for “war crimes committed against journalists in Israel and Palestine,” citing the death of nine journalists, an Israeli killed during the attack on his kibbutz on 7 October, and eight Palestinians. The document mentions the destruction of 50 premises belonging to press organizations in Gaza. This is the third complaint since 2018 filed by RSF with the ICC following the death of journalists in Gaza. The most recent complaint, in 2022, was filed in conjunction with one by the Qatari channel Al Jazeera regarding the shooting death of its Palestinian journalist Shirin Abu Akleh in the West Bank.

° Nine Israeli families impacted by the Hamas attack on 7 October filed a complaint on 2 November at the ICC for “war crime, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” with their lawyer requesting the ICC consider issuing international arrest warrants against Hamas leaders.

° A third complaint for “genocide” in Gaza was filed on 8 November by a collective composed of a hundred jurists from several countries, including members of the bar in Algeria, private individuals, and representatives of associations, represented by the French lawyer Gilles Devers.

° Three Palestinian human rights organizations (Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights) filed a complaint on 8 November with the ICC for “war crimes,” “apartheid,” “genocide,” and “incitement to genocide,” requesting the issuance of arrest warrants against three Israeli leaders. The complaint cites “bombings on a densely populated area, the siege of Gaza, the forced displacement of the population of Gaza, the use of toxic gas, and the deprivation of necessities such as food, water, gasoline, and electricity.”

The ICC to investigate possible war crimes

The ICC has announced its intention to investigate possible war crimes committed in both Israel and Gaza, through its prosecutor, the British Karim Kahn.

During his visit to the Rafah crossing point on 29 October, located between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Karim Kahn stated  in his declaration that “hostage-taking is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions,” and called for the release of the 239 individuals held by Hamas.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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He also reminded Israel of its “obligation to comply with the laws of armed conflict,” stating that “impeding relief supplies may constitute a crime“. Referring to the presence of military advocate generals within the Israeli army, he declared: “They will need to demonstrate that any attack, any attack that impacts innocent civilians or protected objects, must be conducted in accordance with the laws and customs of war, in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.

And I want to be quite clear so there’s no misunderstanding: In relation to every dwelling house, in relation to any school, any hospital, any church, any mosque – those places are protected, unless the protective status has been lost. And I want to be equally clear that the burden of proving that the protective status is lost rests with those who fire the gun, the missile, or the rocket in question.”

In 2021 the ICC had already opened an investigation  into crimes committed within what it calls the “situation in Palestine,” starting from 13 June, 2014 (Gaza War, operation “Protective Edge”).

However, Israel is not among the 139 States that have signed the Rome Statute and disputes the ICC’s competence. On its part, the State of Palestine ratified the Rome Statute in 2015  and seized the ICC. It ruled in 2021 that its “territorial jurisdiction extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.”

An advisory opinion on “Israel’s policies and practices” requested from the ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), competent to deal with disputes between states, released a statement  on 23 October regarding a request for an advisory opinion submitted on 30 December 2022 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly prior to the outbreak of the current conflict.

This resolution, adopted by 87 states, with 53 abstentions and 26 votes against, concerns the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The ICJ has scheduled public hearings for 19 February 2024 in The Hague, following the receipt of written reports  from numerous states. The two specific questions  posed by the UN General Assembly to the ICJ are as follows:

“What are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures?”

“How do the policies and practices of Israel affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?”

Israel disputes the ICJ’s jurisdiction over this matter. The request for an advisory opinion stems from a report published in October 2022 by a commission of inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council  and led by South African judge Navanethem Pillay. The report concluded that “There are reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies”. The document was described as “partial and biased, disqualified by its hatred for the State of Israel” by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, serves as the principal judicial organ of the UN, with jurisdiction to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions. Also located in The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent judicial body competent to try individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It is governed by the Rome Statute, one of the United Nations treaties, which came into force in 2002. The UN Security Council may refer certain situations to the ICC’s prosecutor, and the relationship between the ICC and the UN is governed by a specific agreement.

Feasibility Proposal for the Creation of a Ministry of Peace for Colombia


An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

By the Latin American and the Caribbean Chapter of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace

Fulfilling its objective of supporting the development of Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace in the world, the Latin American and the Caribbean Chapter of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace (GAMIP LAC) delivered the Proposal for the feasibility of the creation of a Ministry of Peace in Colombia. Presented at the Congress of the Republic in a Public Hearing on Thursday, November 9th in the Luis Guillermo Velez Hall with the presence of all political parties, House of Representatives and Senators – as well as members of the Executive Branch of the Nation and delegations from civil society, the document is now published (At this moment, the publication is only available in Spanish). It is the first time in the international history of the construction of Ministries of Peace that a Non-Governmental Organization has taken this initiative.

Read the Feasibility Proposal (in Spanish)

Executive Summary of the Feasibility Proposal for the Creation of a Ministry of Peace in Colombia

This analysis for a Ministry of Peace proposal in the Republic of Colombia is authored by a Colombian and international team of experts in the field of peacebuilding. The group respectfully presents to Congress the key lessons learned from a legislative study on the feasibility of establishing a Ministry of Peace (MPC) in Colombia, based on similar experiences in other countries. The aim is to support the vision of the Republic of Colombia in striving to build, consolidate, and maintain sustainable peace for future generations.

The methodology involved studying, analyzing, and outlining lessons learned potentially beneficial for the creation of a MINISTRY OF PEACE in Colombia, as stated in the FINAL REPORT OF THE TRUTH COMMISSION – CEV during its public presentation to the elected President of the Republic, Gustavo Petro, and the country on June 28, 2022. The team included a select group of Colombian and international advisory consultants, academics, and leaders from International Organizations with extensive knowledge, experience, and training in peacebuilding theory and conflict resolution implementation. They hail from Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Canada. Their areas of expertise include Education for Peace, Citizenship and Democracy; Political Science; Economics; Human Rights Practice; Defense; International Cooperation; Communications; Sociology; Constitutional Law; and Professionalism for Peace.

The resulting document is based on international research and focuses on Colombia’s declared needs to establish a Ministry of Peace, as well as the Recommendation cited from the Final Report of the Truth Commission – CEV. This proposal considered as fundamental elements of analysis and background:

The history of Ministries of Peace (MOPs) in the international community and supporting UN resolutions of which Colombia is a signatory (especially UN resolution 53/243 on the Action Program for a Culture of Peace).

The recommendations of the Truth Commission (June 2022), including the Colombian government’s political will to build Peace (particularly the enunciation of the concept of “Total Peace” by the current government); Colombia’s existing long-standing efforts towards peacebuilding and existing practices in this field that have demonstrated efficiency in their development and application in some territories.

The current research in the country on the sufficient and urgent conditions to achieve peace and advance an MPC, such as: the readiness and willingness of the majority of the parties involved in the armed conflict and widespread violence to seek peace as a priority; collective awareness of the need for healing, reconciliation, and addressing traumas and other social issues; the political will to invoke change and solutions with a reasonable chance of success for peaceful coexistence; and the intention for all involved parties to work together, with perspectives of progressing towards peace, reconciliation, and human security in all its aspects.

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(Click here for the announcment in Spanish.)

Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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Key Lessons Learned to Consider in the Planning and Implementation of the Following Proposal


° Capacities and authorities with sufficient funding for leadership and sustainability to address national peace issues and act as an effective catalyst to amplify ministerial, departmental, municipal, and civil society initiatives;

° Sustainable capacities for future generations at national, state, and municipal levels;

° Capacities to drive and coordinate the consolidation of peace as an organizing principle of society;

° Coherent outcomes with the creation of a positive peace culture that fosters well-being and harmony, and capacities to constructively address conflicts or violence;

° Capacities to build and strengthen a national architecture of peace, peace education, and peace practices.

Pay due attention to:

° The sustainability of this proposal with sensitivity to UN resolutions and building a culture of peace;

° Avoiding the trap of a single-focus approach – Ministries of Peace (MdP) that have focused on specific conflict outcomes risk being marginalized or dissolved once the single-focus mandate is deemed achieved or primary goals reach manageable levels (e.g., the case of Nepal). Instead, a broad peace consolidation mandate should be built on sustainable foundations to address issues affecting peace, such as peace education, gender, racism, violence, crime, human rights, poverty, environmental concerns, and biases;

° Encouraging broad participation, inclusion, ownership, and accountability by strengthening and accommodating existing peace-related functions already assigned to other Colombian ministries and institutions, including at the departmental and municipal levels, as well as in civil society;

° Considering existing peace services, such as ministerial peace managers and Total Peace initiatives to establish peace promoters;

° Prioritizing and integrating peace education at all levels of Colombian educational curricula;

° Building an inclusive Colombian peace architecture involving citizen peace practices, community-level capacities, and peace professionals, as well as qualified peace professionals at all levels;

° Instituting strong monitoring, research, and advisory functions on peace at the highest levels of government;

° Prioritizing and addressing national needs for peace consolidation, considering existing Peace Agreements, the Havana Peace Agreement (November 2016), and the Truth Commission Report (June 2022), maintaining good governance, and addressing social needs such as human rights, violence prevention, gender equality, land-related issues, and environmental considerations;

° Building strong relationships with state security providers, police, and army. Developing with them principles, methods, and strategies of peace education, peace skills and practices, and a culture that prioritizes “peaceful means” of professional intervention.

Leveraging Existing Strategic Ministerial Tools, such as:

A National Peace Development Plan within the National Development Plan, to reinforce the commitment and responsibility of peace officers and peace committees at ministerial, departmental, and city levels, as well as peace development plans, peace tables or committees at ministerial, departmental, and city levels, and by civil society;

A National Peace Program, which includes (1) service provision and operations to address priorities in peace education, ethics, gender equality, reconciliation, health, environment, justice, racism, extremism, and human rights; (2) a framework for effective, inclusive, and participatory communication, support, and reporting: (a) to the President, Congress, and Ministries for advisory, oversight, research, and peace operations functions, as well as for education, outreach, and international and UN coordination; (b) to all Ministries through established peace officers, peace committees, and Ministerial Peace Development Plans to reinforce their individual contributions within the national strategic context; (c) to departments, communities, cities, NGOs, and citizens to support, establish, catalyze, and formalize peace networks in society, federal commissions, NGOs, peace groups, and universities.

Path Forward

We believe that the timing and conditions are extremely favorable for establishing a Ministry of Peace that can make a real difference for all Colombians. The political will of Congress and the President is commendable and sets an example for the international community that Colombia can be proud of.

We understand that the journey through Congress, up to the approval of a Ministry of Peace, its mandate, and eventual implementation, will be complex, a legislative and political learning experience with which we are willing to collaborate, support, and strengthen if considered necessary and useful for the process.

We request your review, opinions, and contributions to improve this report and proposal.

If you have any comments or proposals, please refer to comunicaciones@gamipalc.org

Mexico: XIX World Congress and XXIII National Mediation Congress 2023


An article from Noticias de Queretaro

The Nineteenth World Congress and the Twenty-Third National Mediation Congress 2023 closed with great success. It took place from November 6 to 10 in the Municipality of Querétaro with participants from more than 10 countries, and with activities, analysis, study and dissemination of mediation issues, as well as the culture of peace for the benefit of the people of Queretaro.

Under the motto “A Life for Peace and Concord”, 83 academic activities were carried out, including 31 presentations, 18 conferences, eight book presentations, 11 successful projects, eight dialectical analysis forums and philosophical dialogues, and 27 workshops.

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Questions for this article:

Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?

Mediation as a tool for nonviolence and culture of peace

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Specialists from different parts of Mexico and other countries including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Portugal, and Spain combined efforts to carry out the project for the implementation and dissemination of mediation and the culture of peace.

This international event sparked the interest of participants from 20 states in the Mexico, including Jalisco, Yucatán, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Baja California, Chiapas, Mexico City, State of Mexico, Sonora, Sinaloa, Nuevo León, Puebla, Guerrero, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes and Quintana Roo. They met at the Educational and Cultural Center of the State of Querétaro, “Manuel Gómez Morín”, the Arts Center of the State of Querétaro.

It is worth highlighting the great participation and interest in all activities, both by specialists and by attendees. Attendees included students and schools at the high school and professional level of Mexico and more than 1,300 congressmen during the five days of the event which closed with important conclusions that will be translated into actions and public policies that will promote the peace and harmony that citizens need.

(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

BRICS Countries Call to End Israel’s Aggression in Gaza


An article from Telesur

A month and a half after the start of the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian people, the BRICS countries called for an immediate end to Israel’s aggression in the Gaza Strip.

The bloc made this request in a statement issued at the end of its summit to analyze the Gaza crisis, convened by Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, the country that will preside over the BRICS this year.

“Israel’s actions clearly violate international law, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Convention,” Ramaphosa said, calling for an “immediate and complete ceasefire” to the Israeli occupation army’s siege of Gaza.

“The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the illegal use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to Gaza residents amounts to genocide,” he added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called on countries to declare Israel a terrorist regime and adopt a binding resolution at the United Nations against the Zionist State.

“The Zionist regime’s continued attacks on hospitals and medical centers, and religious sites, as well as the murder of women, children, doctors, and nurses, are all terrorist acts,” he said.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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“It is necessary to declare this false regime as a terrorist regime and its Army as a terrorist organization,” added the Iranian president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a “diplomatic solution” to Israel’s escalation against the Gaza Strip: “Russia’s position on the situation in Gaza is coherent and not opportunistic. Moscow insists on a diplomatic solution to the problem.”

The Russian leader indicated that the “efforts of the United Nations to guarantee the peaceful coexistence of the two States, Israel and Palestine, have been sabotaged, so that more than one generation of Palestinians has grown up in an atmosphere of injustice.”

Putin also blamed the United States for “monopolizing peace efforts in the Middle East”, blocking positive interventions from other international actors.

During his speech, Brazilian President Lula da Silva asked for action to prevent the Zionist escalation from spreading to other countries:

“The contribution of the BRICS, in its new configuration, together with all the actors in favor of self-control and de-escalation of war, is valuable and essential. Brazil does not believe that peace is achieved only with the force of arms,” he stressed.

“The high number of deaths, over 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, causes us great consternation. As the Secretary of the United Nations said, Gaza is becoming a children’s cemetery,” Lula said and once again defended the creation of the Palestinian State as a solution to the conflict.

“We cannot forget that the current war is also the result of decades of frustration and injustice, represented by the absence of a safe home for the Palestinian people,” he stressed.

Finally, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an end to Israel’s “collective punishment” against Gaza, including forced displacement and deprivation of water and electricity.

“China believes that the conflict must end to prevent the death of more people. The international community must act with practical measures to prevent the conflict from spreading and endangering the stability of the region,” he said and called for the opening of humanitarian corridors.

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

The following excerpts come from an analysis made by Richard Falk, former UN Rapporteur for Palestine. They were published 14 years ago in response to Israeli attacks on Palestine, but they are still pertinent today in 2023 in response to the attacks of Israel on Gaza:

International Criminal Court

The most obvious path to address the broader questions of criminal accountability would be to invoke the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court established in 2002. Although the prosecutor has been asked to investigate the possibility of such a proceeding, it is highly unlikely to lead anywhere since Israel is not a member and, by most assessments, Palestine is not yet a state or party to the statute of the ICC. Belatedly, and somewhat surprisingly, the Palestinian Authority sought, after the 19 January ceasefire, to adhere to the Rome Treaty establishing the ICC. But even if its membership is accepted, which is unlikely, the date of adherence would probably rule out legal action based on prior events such as the Gaza military operation. And it is certain that Israel would not cooperate with the ICC with respect to evidence, witnesses or defendants, and this would make it very difficult to proceed even if the other hurdles could be overcome.

(Note: According to an update by Reuters , the ICC has had an ongoing investigation in the occupied Palestinian territories into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity there since 2021. But Israel doesn’t recognise the court. Many of the world’s major powers are not members, including China, the United States, Russia, India and Egypt. Even if the ICC were to issue warrants in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the court has no police force and would rely on member states to make arrests.)

International criminal tribunals

The next most obvious possibility would be to follow the path chosen in the 1990s by the UN Security Council, establishing ad hoc international criminal tribunals, as was done to address the crimes associated with the break-up of former Yugoslavia and with the Rwanda massacres of 1994. This path seems blocked in relation to Israel as the US, and likely other European permanent members, would veto any such proposal. In theory, the General Assembly could exercise parallel authority, as human rights are within its purview and it is authorised by Article 22 of the UN charter to “establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its function”. In 1950 it acted on this basis to establish the UN Administrative Tribunal, mandated to resolve employment disputes with UN staff members.

The geopolitical realities that exist within the UN make this an unlikely course of action (although it is under investigation). At present there does not seem to be sufficient inter-governmental political will to embark on such a controversial path, but civil society pressure may yet make this a plausible option, especially if Israel persists in maintaining its criminally unlawful blockade of Gaza, resisting widespread calls, including by President Obama, to open the crossings from Israel. Even in the unlikely event that it is established, such a tribunal could not function effectively without a high degree of cooperation with the government of the country whose leaders and soldiers are being accused. Unlike former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Israel’s political leadership would certainly do its best to obstruct the activities of any international body charged with prosecuting Israeli war crimes.

Claims of universal jurisdiction

Perhaps the most plausible governmental path would be reliance on claims of universal jurisdiction (1) associated with the authority of national courts to prosecute certain categories of war crimes, depending on national legislation. Such legislation exists in varying forms in more than 12 countries, including Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Britain and the US. Spain has already indicted several leading Israeli military officers, although there is political pressure on the Spanish government to alter its criminal law to disallow such an undertaking in the absence of those accused.

This path to criminal accountability was taken in 1998 when a Spanish high court indicted the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and he was later detained in Britain where the legal duty to extradite was finally upheld on rather narrow grounds by a majority of the Law Lords, the highest court in the country. Pinochet was not extradited however, but returned to Chile on grounds of unfitness to stand trial, and died in Chile while criminal proceedings against him were under way.

Whether universal jurisdiction provides a practical means of responding to the war crimes charges arising out of the Gaza experience is doubtful. National procedures are likely to be swayed by political pressures, as were German courts, which a year ago declined to proceed against Donald Rumsfeld on torture charges despite a strong evidentiary basis and the near certainty that he would not be prosecuted in the US, which as his home state had the legally acknowledged prior jurisdictional claim. Also, universal jurisdictional proceedings are quite random, depending on either the cooperation of other governments by way of extradition or the happenchance of finding a potential defendant within the territory of the prosecuting state.

It is possible that a high profile proceeding could occur, and this would give great attention to the war crimes issue, and so universal jurisdiction is probably the most promising approach to Israeli accountability despite formidable obstacles. Even if no conviction results (and none exists for comparable allegations), the mere threat of detention and possible prosecution is likely to inhibit the travel plans of individuals likely to be detained on war crime charges; and has some political relevance with respect to the international reputation of a government.

There is, of course, the theoretical possibility that prosecutions, at least for battlefield practices such as shooting surrendering civilians, would be undertaken in Israeli criminal courts. Respected Israeli human rights organisations, including B’Tselem, are gathering evidence for such legal actions and advance the argument that an Israeli initiative has the national benefit of undermining the international calls for legal action.

This Israeli initiative, even if nothing follows in the way of legal action, as seems almost certain due to political constraints, has significance. It will lend credence to the controversial international contentions that criminal indictment and prosecution of Israeli political and military leaders and war crimes perpetrators should take place in some legal venue. If politics blocks legal action in Israel, then the implementation of international criminal law depends on taking whatever action is possible in either an international tribunal or foreign national courts, and if this proves impossible, then by convening a non-governmental civil society tribunal with symbolic legal authority.

Political will is lacking

What seems reasonably clear is that despite the clamour for war crimes investigations and accountability, the political will is lacking to proceed against Israel at the inter-governmental level, whether within the UN or outside. The realities of geopolitics are built around double standards when it comes to war crimes. It is one thing to proceed against Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, but quite another to go against George W Bush or Ehud Olmert. Ever since the Nuremberg trials after the second world war, there exists impunity for those who act on behalf of powerful, undefeated states and nothing is likely to challenge this fact of international life in the near future, thus tarnishing the status of international law as a vehicle for global justice that is consistent in its enforcement efforts. When it comes to international criminal law, there continues to exist impunity for the strong and victorious, and potential accountability for the weak or defeated.

Civil society tribunals

It does seem likely that civil society initiatives will lead to the establishment of one or more tribunals operating without the benefit of governmental authorisation. Such tribunals became prominent in the Vietnam war when Bertrand Russell took the lead in establishing the Russell Tribunal. Since then the Permanent Peoples Tribunal based in Rome has organised more than 20 sessions on a variety of international topics that neither the UN nor governments will touch.

In 2005 the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul, heard evidence from 54 witnesses, and its jury, presided over by the Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, issued a Declaration of Conscience that condemned the US and Britain for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and named names of leaders in both countries who should be held criminally accountable.

The tribunal compiled an impressive documentary record as to criminal charges, and received considerable media attention, at least in the Middle East. Such an undertaking is attacked or ignored by the media because it is one-sided, and lacking in legal weight, but in the absence of formal action on accountability, such informal initiatives fill a legal vacuum, at least symbolically, and give legitimacy to non-violent anti-war undertakings.

Here are the CPNN articles on this subject:

Israel-Palestine: The Role of International Justice

BRICS Countries Call to End Israel’s Aggression in Gaza

Human Rights Watch: Gaza: Unlawful Israeli Hospital Strikes Worsen Health Crisis and should be Investigated as War Crimes.

Mazin Qumsiyeh: Are we being duped to focus only on Gaza suffering?

UN Rights Chief Says Israel’s Collective Punishment in Gaza Is a War Crime

1,500+ Israelis Urge ICC Action on ‘War Crimes and Genocide’ in Gaza

Amnesty International: Damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families in Gaza

Elders warn of consequences of “one-state reality” in Israel and Palestine

The Western Sanctions That Are ‘Choking’ Syria May Be Crimes Against Humanity

Ceasefire can’t hide scale of destruction in Gaza, UN warns, as rights experts call for ICC probe

Human Rights Watch : Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid, Persecution

Remembering the Crimes of the Powerful Exposed by Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

US Media Ignore—and Applaud—Economic War on Venezuela

ICC judges order outreach to victims of war crimes in Palestine

Gaza: Unlawful Israeli Hospital Strikes Worsen Health Crisis and should be Investigated as War Crimes.


An article from Human Rights Watch (creativecommons/license/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/)

° The Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport are further destroying Gaza’s healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes.

° Concerns about disproportionate attacks are magnified for hospitals. Even the threat of an attack or minor damage can have massive life-or-death implications for patients and caregivers.

° The Israeli government should end attacks on hospitals. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the ICC should investigate.

Medical workers treat a Palestinian injured in an Israeli strike, using flashlights due to the lack of electricity at the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, November 10, 2023. © 2023 Anas al-Shareef/Reuters

(Jerusalem) – The Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport are further destroying the Gaza Strip’s healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite the Israeli military’s claims on November 5, 2023, of “Hamas’s cynical use of hospitals,” no evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law.

(Note by the editor: There is no doubt that there are tunnels and bunkers underneath Al Shifa hospital, because they were constructed not by Hamas but by the Israelis, according to a recent CNN interview with a former Israeli prime minister.)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that at least 521 people, including 16 medical workers, have been killed in 137 “attacks on health care” in Gaza as of November 12. These attacks, alongside Israel’s decisions to cut off electricity and water and block humanitarian aid to Gaza, have severely impeded health care access. The United Nations found as of November 10 that two-thirds of primary care facilities and half of all hospitals in Gaza are not functioning at a time when medical personnel are dealing with unprecedented numbers of severely injured patients. Hospitals have run out of medicine and basic equipment, and doctors told Human Rights Watch that they were forced to operate without anesthesia and to use vinegar as an antiseptic.

“Israel’s repeated attacks damaging hospitals and harming healthcare workers, already hard hit by an unlawful blockade, have devastated Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure,” said  A. Kayum Ahmed, special adviser on the right to health at Human Rights Watch. “The strikes on hospitals have killed hundreds of people and put many patients at grave risk because they’re unable to receive proper medical care.”

Human Rights Watch investigated attacks on or near the Indonesian Hospital, al-Ahli Hospital, the International Eye Care Center, the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, and the al-Quds Hospital between October 7 and November 7. Human Rights Watch spoke by phone with two displaced people sheltering in hospitals and 16 healthcare workers and hospital officials in Gaza and analyzed and verified open-source data, including videos posted to social media and satellite imagery, as well as WHO databases.

Israeli forces struck the Indonesian Hospital multiple times between October 7 and October 28, killing at least two civilians. The International Eye Care Center was struck repeatedly and completely destroyed after a strike on October 10 or 11. Strikes hit the compound and vicinity of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital on October 30 and 31. Damage to the hospital as well as a lack of fuel for hospital generators resulted in its closure on November 1. Repeated Israeli strikes damaged the al-Quds Hospital and injured a man and child out front. Israeli forces on several occasions struck well-marked ambulances, killing and wounding at least a dozen people in one incident on November 3, including children, outside al-Shifa hospital.

These ongoing attacks are not isolated. Israeli forces have also carried out scores of strikes damaging several other hospitals  across Gaza.

WHO reported  that as of November 10, 18 out of 36 hospitals and 46 out of 72 primary care clinics were forced to shut down. The forced closure of these facilities stems from damage caused by attacks as well as the lack of electricity and fuel.

Health workers at Gaza’s hospitals told Human Rights Watch they are dealing with unprecedented numbers of injured patients. Additionally, thousands of internally displaced people sheltering at hospitals have been put at risk, facing shortages of food and medicine. Gaza’s hospitals have been forced to address these issues with shortages of medical staff, some of whom have been killed or injured outside their work.

A doctor at Nasser Medical Center said: “At 3 a.m. I dealt with a 60-year-old woman with a cut wound in her head. I can’t make a suture to heal her wound—no gloves, no equipment—so we have to use unsterile techniques.”

Hospitals and other medical facilities are civilian objects that have special protections under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. Hospitals only lose their protection from attack if they are being used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy,” and after a required warning. Even if military forces unlawfully use a hospital to store weapons or encamp able-bodied combatants, the attacking force must issue a warning to cease this misuse, set a reasonable time limit for it to end, and lawfully attack only after such a warning has gone unheeded. Ordering patients, medical staff, and others to evacuate a hospital should only be used as a last resort. Medical personnel need to be protected and permitted to do their work.

All warring parties must take constant care to minimize harm to civilians. Attacks on hospitals being used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy” are still unlawful if indiscriminate or disproportionate. The use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas heightens the risk of indiscriminate attacks. Attacks in which the anticipated loss of civilian life and property are excessive compared with the concrete and direct military gain are disproportionate. Concerns about disproportionate attacks are magnified with respect to hospitals, since even the threat of an attack or minor damage can have massive life-or-death implications for patients and their caregivers.

The Israeli military on October 27 claimed that “Hamas uses hospitals as terror infrastructures,” publishing footage alleging that Hamas was operating from Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa. Israel also alleged that Hamas was using the Indonesian Hospital to hide an underground command and control center and that they had deployed a rocket launchpad 75 meters from the hospital.

These claims are contested. Human Rights Watch has not been able to corroborate them, nor seen any information that would justify attacks on Gaza hospitals. When a journalist at a news conference showing video footage of damage to the Qatar Hospital sought additional information to verify voice recordings and images presented, the Israeli spokesperson said, “our strikes are based on intelligence.” Even if accurate, Israel has not demonstrated that the ensuing hospital attacks were proportionate.

Israel’s general evacuation order on October 13 to 22 hospitals  in northern Gaza was not an effective warning because it did not take into account the specific requirements for hospitals, including providing for the safety of patients and medical personnel. The sweeping nature of the order and the impossibility of safe compliance, given that there is no reliably secure way to flee or safe place to go in Gaza, also raised concerns that the purpose was not to protect civilians, but to terrify them into leaving. The WHO director general has said that “it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives.”

The Israeli government should immediately end unlawful attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and other civilian objects, as well as its total blockade of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to the war crime of collective punishment, Human Rights Watch said. Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups need to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks and not use civilians as “human shields.”

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel should investigate apparently unlawful Israeli attacks on healthcare infrastructure in Gaza.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor has jurisdiction over the current hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups that covers unlawful conduct by all parties. The ICC’s Rome Statute  prohibits as a war crime “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against … medical units and transport.” Israeli and Palestinian officials should cooperate with the commission and the ICC in their work, Human Rights Watch said.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and other countries should suspend military assistance and arms sales  to Israel as long as its forces continue to commit widespread, serious abuses amounting to war crimes against Palestinian civilians with impunity. All governments should demand that Israel restore the flow of electricity and water to Gaza and allow in fuel and humanitarian aid, ensuring that water, food, and medication reach Gaza’s civilian population.

“Israel’s broad-based attack on Gaza’s healthcare system is an attack on the sick and the injured, on babies in incubators, on pregnant people, on cancer patients,” Ahmed said. “These actions need to be investigated as war crimes.”

Blockade’s Effect on Hospitals

Israel’s blockade  has severely constrained hospitals, which have run out of essential medicines and basic equipment. While Israeli authorities have allowed minimal humanitarian aid into Gaza, they have continued to block  the entry of fuel, which hospitals need for their generators. WHO  reported that “hospitals are on the brink of collapse due to the shortage of electricity, medicine, equipment and specialized personnel.”

On October 22, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed grave concern about the impact of the blockade. They noted that 120 newborn children were in incubators, 70 of whom required mechanical ventilation. The incubators and ventilators cannot operate without a stable electricity supply. “The death toll will increase exponentially if incubators start to fail, if hospitals go dark, if children continue to drink unsafe water and have no access to medicine when they get sick,” UNICEF  said. Between November 11 and 13, three premature babies and 29 other patients reportedly died at al-Shifa hospital amid the power outage and lack of medical supplies, according to UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Emerging reports show that unsanitary conditions at hospitals are further affecting access to health care. Tanya Haj Hassan, a doctor who runs a support network  for Gaza healthcare workers, told The Guardian that “hundreds of people are sharing one toilet and living in the hospital corridors, and that obviously has significant concerns for hygiene, sanitation and the functioning of the hospitals.” Doctors are also reporting that more and more patients are showing signs of disease  associated with overcrowding and a lack of sanitation.

A doctor at al-Aqsa Hospital told Human Rights Watch on October 23: “There is a huge shortage of medicines, no electricity, no diesel, no solar, no water to drink or to use. And the electricity company shut electricity to all civilians. … There is a chronic triage and restrictions on medication; we have had to make referrals to Egypt, but there is no way to get there.”

Israeli Evacuation Orders

Israeli authorities have ordered  the evacuation of all 22 hospitals in Gaza city and northern Gaza. “These [evacuation orders] are impossible to carry out, risking the lives of inpatients and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and particularly the most vulnerable requiring life support,” WHO said, adding that there is “insufficient ambulance capacity for transfer and insufficient bed capacity to care for these patients in the south.” WHO described the order as “a death sentence for the sick and injured.”

OCHA  expressed concern that “thousands of patients and medical staff, as well as about 117,000 IDPs, are staying in these facilities.” Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders or MSF) general director Meinie Nicolai said: “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.”

As of November 13, all but one of the hospitals in Gaza city and northern Gaza are reportedly out of service, according to OCHA.

Human Rights Watch interviewed two people with disabilities sheltering in hospitals who said they could not evacuate. “If they bomb the hospital, I will be dead. I know I cannot move,” said Samih al-Masri, a 50-year-old man who said he lost both legs in an Israeli drone strike in 2008 and was sheltering at al-Quds hospital.

Indonesian Hospital

The Israeli military repeatedly struck the compound and vicinity of the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahiya, one  of two major hospitals in northern Gaza.

On October 7, an airstrike hit an area behind the Indonesian Hospital, which OCHA reported  killed two men, including a staff member, and injured five others. Hosni Salha, a security guard, was killed while sitting in one of the hospital’s vehicles along with the driver and a paramedic, a doctor from the hospital said. After the attack, the doctor took a photo at the scene that shows a destroyed vehicle. The second civilian was a man passing by the hospital when the attack occurred, the doctor said.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

(continued from left column)

The doctor said that the hospital was treating patients injured in the hostilities, including families wounded in airstrikes that hit their homes. He said that following airstrikes that hit his apartment building, he searched for his daughter, a second-year engineering student. The strikes killed her and four other civilians, including a child: “I started digging with my hands with all my strength; civil defense members haven’t arrived yet. I kept digging with my hands until I saw part of her t-shirt, I kept digging, when I saw her, she was already martyred.”

The doctor said the Israeli military provided no order to evacuate or advance warning before the first attack on the hospital. He said that on October 13, a week after the first strike, the hospital received an Israeli evacuation order.

Even those who finish their treatment can’t leave. They have no place to go after losing their houses and families and there is no safe place. We have a girl at the hospital who lost her entire family. She currently has no one to stay with, no place to go to. There’s also a boy staying at the hospital. We are waiting for him to be identified by a family member or relative. 

On October 16, another airstrike hit five meters away from the hospital, partially damaging the building, which the doctor said terrified patients and staff.

He said that on the night of October 27, after the Israeli government apparently deliberately disrupted telecommunications in Gaza, the hospital was struck again, causing additional damage to the building. Human Rights Watch geolocated a video and three photographs released on October 28 showing a crater inside the hospital’s courtyard.

On October 30, OCHA reported  that this attack came after a renewed order by the Israeli military to immediately evacuate the hospital.

CCTV footage published by Al Jazeera on October 29 shows the moments the hospital ceiling collapsed due to strikes near the hospital. The hospital published photos of the collapsed ceiling to its Facebook page, which it said were the result of strikes in the vicinity of the hospital. Another strike on October 30 targeted an area near the hospital, causing dust and smoke to spread to its entrance. Footage from November 4 and November 6 show additional strikes in the hospital’s vicinity.

In a November 5 news conference, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson alleged that “the Indonesian Hospital is being used by Hamas to hide an underground command and control center,” that Hamas had a rocket launchpad 75 meters from the hospital, and that it was stealing fuel from the hospital.

In a news conference  the next day, the Indonesia-based Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), a volunteer group that funds the hospital, disputed the allegations, stating that the only tunnel connected to the hospital was used to send fuel to the hospital’s fuel tank to power its generators. Human Rights Watch is not in a position to corroborate the claims by Israel or the committee.

A MER-C volunteer told the media on October 30 that 2,530 people had been treated at the hospital for injuries and that 164 patients remained hospitalized. He said that more than 1,500 displaced residents were also sheltering in empty hospital rooms and in courtyards. On October 31, an influx  of patients were sent to the hospital following an Israeli airstrike on Jabalia refugee camp that Gaza’s Health Ministry reported  killed more than 50 people and injured 150. On November 2, Gaza’s Health Ministry reported  that the hospital’s main generator stopped operating due to a lack of fuel.

International Eye Hospital

Human Rights Watch reviewed and verified photos and video footage of the International Eye Hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City showing large structural damage to the main building. In the published material and in satellite imagery from October 10 and 11, damage signatures are consistent with an airstrike using a large air-dropped munition. Two strikes appear to have taken place: one on October 8 and another on October 10 or 11, which destroyed the facility. On October 21, the hospital wrote in a post  on its Facebook page that the “hospital no longer exists” with a photo showing its complete destruction. 

Human Rights Watch was unable to find any published information from Israeli authorities in English, Arabic, or Hebrew reflecting that any advance warning was given or providing any legal basis for the attacks on the medical facility.

Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital

Beginning the night of October 30-31, the Israeli military repeatedly struck the compound and vicinity of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, south of Gaza City on the campus of the Islamic University of Gaza’s Faculty of Medicine. The hospital served as the only specialized cancer treatment center in the Gaza Strip.

In satellite imagery collected on the morning of October 30, three impact craters are visible, one measuring 10 meters in diameter, less than 100 meters from the main hospital complex. On the morning after, an additional crater is visible within the hospital complex in the courtyard, measuring at least 15 meters in diameter.

OCHA reported  on October 31 that the hospital had been “hit for the second night in a row,” that there was damage to the third floor, and that staff and people sheltering in the hospital were exposed to smoke, causing suffocation and panic.

The hospital director, Sobhi Skaik, told Human Rights Watch on November 3 that the October 31 attack struck the third floor of the hospital, affecting both the east and west wings, as well as the approximately 100 to 150 cancer patients there, their families, and hospital staff.

Human Rights Watch verified several videos posted on social media that show the effects of the attacks. A video  posted to social media early on October 30 shows damage to the hospital’s interior. A video  taken from inside the hospital and published on social media early in the evening on October 30 shows a strike near the hospital complex. A loud blast is heard in the video followed by billowing smoke.

Photos and video published by the media and on social media on October 31 show damage inside the hospital’s east wing, where there is a large circular hole in the southeastern-facing exterior wall, blown out windows, and a destroyed interior wall.

Human Rights Watch determined that the damage was most likely caused by a shell from a direct fire weapon, such as a tank’s main gun. A video  posted on social media on October 30 shows an Israeli tank along Salah al-Din Road, 1.7 kilometers east of the hospital. Multiple clusters of armored military vehicles, including tanks and bulldozers, are also visible on satellite imagery from October 31 southeast of the hospital following the Israeli offensive inside the Gaza Strip. On that day, the closest armored vehicles were less than 500 meters from the hospital.

The hospital shut down  on November 1 because of the airstrikes and lack of fuel. Skaik said hospital staff were forced to evacuate patients to the Dar al-Salam hospital in Khan Younis in unsafe conditions. “We evacuated under fire,” he said. “We had no protection.” He said an international agency told him that all they could do was “convey the message” to the Israelis.

According  to Skaik and the Gaza Health Ministry, on November 2, four cancer patients died following the hospital evacuation. Skaik said that Dar al-Salam hospital was trying to provide services but that it was unable to provide the cancer patients the treatment they needed without the medical devices at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, which cannot be transferred, and that medications were running out. The Health Ministry warned that the condition of 70 of the hospital’s cancer patients was critical.

Human Rights Watch was unable to find any published information from Israeli authorities in English, Arabic, or Hebrew providing any advance warning to the hospital or a legal basis for the attacks on the medical facility. Turkish  officials have condemned the Israeli military’s attack on the hospital as a violation of international law.

Al-Quds Hospital

Multiple Israeli strikes had hit the vicinity of the al-Quds hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City by October 16, as shown in videos and photos posted to social media that Human Rights Watch collected and reviewed. The strikes followed Israeli evacuation orders, despite visual evidence  that the hospital was being used to treat patients and shelter displaced families. Several high-rise buildings were completely destroyed in the streets adjacent to the hospital, as is evident in November 6 satellite imagery.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) issued a statement  that the hospital, which is under its auspices, had received an Israeli order to evacuate by 4 p.m. (initially 6 a.m.) on October 14. By October 16, strikes had hit the vicinity of the hospital five times, the PRCS said. A video it published  on October 18 shows a strike hitting less than 200 meters from the hospital’s entrance.

On October 20, the PRCS reported that the Israeli authorities warned about a strike on the hospital by phone and ordered an evacuation. On October 22, Israeli authorities reportedly ordered the hospital to evacuate twice within the span of half an hour. The PRCS posted a video from inside the hospital showing people standing at its entrance following what the hospital said were intense Israeli strikes 20 meters away. The hospital said the strikes occurred during a meeting of hospital staff with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

On October 29, the PRCS said that Israeli authorities warned it about a strike on the hospital and ordered an immediate evacuation, which was preceded by strikes that destroyed buildings as close as 50 meters from the hospital. Footage published on October 29 shows a strike next to the hospital building, just in front of another PRCS site, and damages to the hospital. Videos published on October 30 show the aftermath of the strike and damage to the PRCS site.

Strikes hitting the vicinity of the hospital continued on October 31, according to posts by the PRCS. Footage published on November 2 by the PRCS and other social media accounts show additional strikes in the vicinity the hospital. The PRCS announced on November 2 that fire from Israeli vehicles one kilometer south injured a man and child in front of the hospital and hit the sixth floor of the hospital where many displaced women and children were sheltering, damaging the hospital’s central air conditioning units and a water tank.

Video footage shows shattered windows, smoke, and dust as a result of what appears to be an explosion roughly 35 meters northwest of the main hospital entrance on November 3. The PRCS reported that the attack, whose effects are shown in video footage posted on social media, shattered internal glass panels and collapsed parts of the hospital’s plaster ceiling. There were 21 injuries reported, mostly to women and children. Further strikes were reported near the hospital throughout the day.

On November 5, footage shows medical personnel moving an injured man into the hospital while an explosion is audible in the background after a hit nearby. The PRCS stated that the strikes then increased in intensity, duration, and proximity to the hospital, and have led to 12 injuries among people sheltering inside, in addition to injuries to two patients, one of whom was in the intensive care unit.

OCHA reported that 14,000 displaced people were in al-Quds hospital along with hospital staff and patients as of October 29. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned that hundreds of injured, bed-ridden, and long-term patients, including those in intensive care, on life-support, and babies in incubators, were being endangered by strikes in the vicinity of the hospital along with displaced people and medical staff, and that it “is close to, if not impossible” to evacuate patients in the current situation.

Strikes on Ambulances

Israeli forces have on several occasions struck ambulances marked with the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem, often near hospitals. Ambulances, like medical facilities, have special protections under the laws of war such that they may not be attacked unless being used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy” and after due warning. In at least one case, the Israeli military claimed that armed groups were unlawfully using the ambulance that had been attacked, but did not provide more information or a warning.

On November 3, the Israeli military struck a marked ambulance just outside of Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital. Video footage and photographs taken shortly after the strike and verified by Human Rights Watch show a woman on a stretcher in the ambulance and at least 21 dead or injured people in the area surrounding the ambulance, including at least 5 children. Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that 15 people were killed and 60 injured in the strike. An IDF spokesperson said in a televised interview that day: “Our forces saw terrorists using ambulances as a vehicle to move around. They perceived a threat and accordingly we struck that ambulance.” Human Rights Watch did not find  evidence that the ambulance was being used for military purposes.

On October 7, WHO reported  that an ambulance in front of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis was struck around 2 p.m., injuring several paramedics. A verified video  posted to social media and an Anadolu Agency photograph showed the destroyed ambulance outside the complex.

WHO reported  that a separate attack on October 7, which hit two ambulances in Jabalia, killed two paramedics and injured others.

Gaza’s Health Ministry also reported that on October 13, Israeli strikes hit three ambulances, injuring 10 paramedics.

Hostilities and Blockade

The Israeli military’s current operations in Gaza began following an October 7 Hamas-led attack in southern Israel that resulted in the killing of about 1,200 people, hundreds of them civilians, according to the Israeli government. Hamas and Islamic Jihad took hostage 240 people, including children, people with disabilities, and older people. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have also launched thousands of rockets indiscriminately towards Israeli population centers.