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Israel and the enforced disappearance of Palestinian from Gaza

July 5, 2024 at 2:02 pm

Palestinian demonstrators hold banners and placards in front of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRC) building during a protest held to support the arrested Palestinians who are at the Israeli prisons, in Gaza City, Gaza on May 06, 2024. [ Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

Israel has used all means to target Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, in addition to internationally prohibited weapons that wiped out people, trees and stones, Israeli forces have randomly arrested thousands of civilians including women and children, doctors, journalists from different areas of the Strip during the ground military operations since the beginning of the war. And the violations did not stop there, as they turned into enforced disappearances, with families left with no information about the fate of their loved ones.

What is enforced disappearance?

Enforced disappearance means making a person disappear beyond his or her will, and the International Convention for the Protection of all person from Enforced Disappearance defines it as “the arrest, detention, kidnapping or any form of deprivation of liberty carried out by state officials, or by persons or groups of individuals acting with or without permission support or approval by the state followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of a person’s liberty or concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person this depriving him of the protection of the law.”

It is a strategic method that dates back centuries and was a feature of dictatorships in Latin America and is used in wars to spread terror in society as a whole, but Israel claims it is arresting fighters or people connected to Hamas to investigate them. This is false. Israel’s first and primary goal is to violate the civil rights of Palestinian civilians and deliberately humiliate them, and undermine their freedom in a manner that violates humanitarian and legal standards. This is what was revealed in the testimonies of released Palestinian detainees from Gaza Strip, who spoke of the horrors of their detention and of systematic torture based on preventing them from food and drink, and subjecting them to insults and other abuses which constitute a violation of international laws.

Read: Israel minister vows to oppose any prisoner exchange deal that ends the war

Field executions were also carried out and bodies were found in mass graves, handcuffed and blindfolded in different areas of Gaza Strip.

Israel’s second goal is to psychologically torture the families of the detainees, who are left with no details of the fate of their children after their arrest. Enforced disappearance causes anxiety and despair to the families of those detained and increases their suffering.

Enforced disappearance and international criminal law

The occupation is practicing a systematic policy of enforced disappearance coupled with an organised plan to arrest unarmed civilians in Gaza, while refusing to acknowledge the deprivation of the freedom and the protection guaranteed to them by law. According to the head of the High Commission for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, the Israeli occupation army rejected a UN request to provide information about their fate or place of detention.

After more than 270 days of the war on Gaza, we have not seen serious action from ICC; this international silence has emboldened the occupation state to continue its policy of enforced disappearance and increase Palestinian suffering.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.