Offensive in Gaza: Don’t Sit Idly by as Humanitarian Crisis Spread

How many casualties does Israel intend to cause by indiscriminately attacking homes, hospitals and other facilities? Its hard-line stance, which has continued to expand the humanitarian crisis, cannot be ignored.

The Israeli military has once again attacked the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip with airstrikes. It has also launched a large-scale ground operation, deploying tanks to the southernmost city of Rafah.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled northern and central areas of Gaza and appear to still be in Rafah. The Israeli military has seized control of the Rafah checkpoint on the border with Egypt, preventing food and other supplies from entering the city.

Israel claims that its attacks on Rafah have been limited, but the number of casualties has risen day by day.

Seven months after Israel began its offensive in Gaza, more than 35,000 residents have been killed, including women and children. This is the result of the Israeli military’s indiscriminate attacks, with little thought given to human life.

The direct cause of this fighting is the Islamist group Hamas’ cross-border attack on Israel. Hamas killed about 1,200 people and even now has more than 100 hostages. Its terrorist acts are inexcusable.

However, the international community has increasingly directed criticism toward Israel, which has continued to fight back excessively.

Countries such as South Africa have condemned Israel’s military offensive, calling it genocide. There has also been growing criticism in Europe, which is urging Israel to abide by international law.

U.S. President Joe Biden made an unusual warning that if Israel launches a full-scale attack on Rafah, the United States would suspend arms supplies. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued the offensive, as if he is refusing to listen.

Does Netanyahu expect the United States to fully support his country if former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is pro-Israel, returns to power as a result of the U.S. presidential election this November?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the U.N. top court, has ordered Israel to take actions such as immediately halting its assault on Rafah as provisional measures. This order is legally binding, so failure to comply is a violation of international law.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a tribunal of countries party to the court’s founding treaty mainly regarding crimes against humanity, has sought arrest warrants for Netanyahu and the Israeli defense minister, as well as for Hamas senior officials, on suspicion of war crimes and other charges.

It is natural to hold Hamas accountable for its crimes, but the prosecution also appears to view Israel’s actions as serious crimes.

It is not sufficient that Japan has simply voiced cliches about the situation in the international community, such as “We are closely monitoring” the developments. From the perspective of prioritizing universal values, such as respect for people’s lives and human rights, Japan should engage in diplomatic efforts to strongly urge the parties concerned to stop the fighting.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 26, 2024)