BHRC condemns atrocities by Hamas and endorses UN High Commissioner on Human Rights’ statement on the situation in Israel and Gaza

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Volker Türk, issued a statement yesterday (10 October) on the human rights situation in Israel and the OPT. The Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) endorses the High Commissioner’s condemnation of recent Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, shares his concerns about the consequences of a siege on Gaza, and supports his conclusion that ‘we need to find solutions guided by the full respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law’.

BHRC condemns the escalation of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip in the last few days, and joins the High Commissioner in expressing shock and horror at ‘allegations of summary executions of civilians…and horrifying mass killings by Palestinian armed groups’. We join the international human rights community in expressing our absolute condemnation of Hamas’s actions, as well as urging the application of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians, can never be justified.

With the High Commissioner, we express our concern at the ‘full siege’ of Gaza ordered on 9 October by Israel, an approach that will worsen the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, and put even more civilian lives at risk. Further, justifiable military operations by Israel must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law governed by its State obligation to protect the civilian population throughout any military strikes.

The use of disproportionate force and the infliction of unnecessary harm on civilians by any actors are clear violations of international humanitarian law. We call upon all States with influence to work with Israel to set up humanitarian corridors in Gaza, to secure the safe release of the hostages held in Gaza and to hasten the end of the conflict.

Issued by the Chair & Vice Chairs of BHRC