A man sits on the rubble as others wander among debris of buildings that were targeted by Israeli airstrikes in Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip. AP PHOTO –
Caricom has reiterated its call for a ceasefire in the Palestinian territory of Gaza amid what it says is a worsening “catastrophic humanitarian crisis”.
In a media release, the regional bloc expressed horror and concern at the mounting death toll on the civilian population, including women and children, in Gaza and other areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
Noting Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, it condemned any disregard for international humanitarian law, human rights and the laws of war that have resulted in the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza and deprivation of access to basic necessities including medical care for the people of Palestine.
Caricom said it is therefore calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate release of all hostages and humane treatment for them at all times in compliance with international law.
It also called for all parties to “immediately and fully comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law”.
The bloc said “immediate, safe, unimpeded access for adequate, sustained humanitarian support throughout Gaza including food, water, medicines, medical care, fuel and electricity” is also necessary.
The organisation previously described the attacks in Israel and the counter-attacks in Gaza as “savage” and “the antithesis of civilised life and living.”
In a press release on October 9, it said the attributed the hostilities to ancient quarrels and added, “the ongoing harsh conditions under which the Palestinians live in veritable colonialism and Israel’s sense of insecurity will contribute to a cycle of violence until those realities are definitively addressed.”
In Sunday’s media release, Caricom repeated its belief that “a lasting, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be achieved only by peaceful means, based on the relevant United Nations Resolutions and in accordance with international law.”
Caricom’s position is in line with that of the TT government which has condemned the violence and called for the immediate release of hostages.
Caricom and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne, speaking in the senate last week said, “The government of Trinidad and Tobago totally condemns the ongoing widespread killing of civilians by the Israeli military, including over 4,000 children, according to reports. We note that over 79 staff of the UN have been killed in Gaza, along with over 10,000 Palestinians.
Browne said he intended “advocate strongly” on the issue during last Wednesday’s planned meeting of the Caricom Council for Foreign and Community Relations as, even after meetings of the UN Security Council, there was no sign of the violence ending or a clear path to ending the conflict.
He offered the commitment in response to a matter on the adjournment of the Senate raised by Independent Senator Anthony Vieira over assistance for nationals in the Middle East who are at risk from the escalating conflict.
Browne voiced his agreement with Vieira that diplomacy must prevail and there must be a strong role for the UN in finding a solution.
Vieira lamented the loss of life endured by those on both sides of the conflict saying, “Most of us would like to see the UN or a group of nations interceding as peacemaker on humanitarian and moral grounds, with a view to offering a viable path to peace.”
He said the conflict risked escalating into a greater war which could put Caricom citizens at risk.
“I am concerned about our citizens who would be affected by this escalation. I call on the government to work with Caricom and other responsible members of the international community in pressing for an immediate ceasefire, for the provision of life-saving aid for those in need. We must lend support to the UN for the promotion of the two-state solution, for Israel’s legitimacy and Palestine’s existence.”