The group of independent global leaders working for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet known as the Elders have condemned the “horrendous terror attacks” launched by Hamas on 7 October 2023, including the “killing of innocent civilians, the holding of hostages and the continued indiscriminate missile attacks on Israel.” The group founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 said that these are “mass atrocities for which the perpetrators must be brought to justice, preferably in a court of law.”
In a statement issued this afternoon, the Elders also condemned the Israeli government’s “unacceptable collective punishment of the population of Gaza through siege, the scale of the military assault and its death toll, and the forcible transfer of civilians within the territory, as well as the continuing land and home incursions and demolitions in the West Bank and settler violence against Palestinian communities.” These, they insisted, are not legitimate acts of self-defence. “They are clear violations of international humanitarian law, and some amount to atrocities for which there needs to be criminal accountability.”
The group pointed out that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples are intertwined by history, geography and legacies of sacrifice and suffering. “The current crisis has sparked unimaginable pain and trauma on both sides which demands the world’s compassion and respect. Israeli and Palestinian lives are of equal worth. History, morality and political experience compel us to send this clear message: one set of crimes must not be responded to with more crimes.”
The Elders noted that US President Joe Biden — who has rushed military aid to Israel over the past few days — has warned that Israel must not repeat the mistakes made by the United States after the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the worst of which was the invasion of Iraq.
“Trying to defeat terrorism only through military action is more often than not a terrible mistake that leads to more terrorism, extremism and violence,” said the group. “A ground incursion by Israeli troops into Gaza could cause massive civilian casualties on top of the thousands of lives already lost, and risks inflaming a wider regional escalation of the conflict.”
The cycles of violence and impunity must be broken, they added. “Moreover, the international community must be clear that all those accused of atrocity crimes on both sides should be held criminally accountable.”
Source : MEMO