The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) expresses deep alarm at the escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel and condemns the targeting of civilians on both sides by Hamas and Israeli forces.
We urgently call for respect for international law and a commitment from all parties to protect civilian lives, and join the international community in calling for all sides and key countries in the region to de-escalate to avoid further bloodshed.
Even in the face of the illegal occupation and a 16-year blockade of Gaza, there are obligations under international humanitarian law that must be upheld. We condemn the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and taking of civilian hostages by Hamas and other armed groups, which amount to war crimes under international law.
We also condemn the retaliatory attacks from Israeli forces, including the shelling of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure by the Israeli Defence Forces. Israel’s stated intention of imposing a complete siege on Gaza, which involves cutting off electricity and water supplies, amounts to collective punishment; a grave violation of international humanitarian law.
As of the latest reports, the situation is dire. Israel's retaliatory attack on Gaza has resulted in the tragic loss of hundreds of lives and injuries to thousands, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Meanwhile, the death toll from Hamas attacks is now also in the hundreds, and Israel's health ministry has reported thousands of people have been treated in hospitals following attacks by Palestinian armed groups.
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urgent maximum restraint and has called for “all diplomatic efforts … to avoid a wider conflagration”.
Alongside the ITUC, the ITF calls for all sides, and the international community, to act for peace. The ITF also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilian hostages, in accordance with international law.
“We extend our condolences and solidarity to victims' families as the civilian death toll continues to mount, whilst recognising the historical context and root causes that have contributed to the current crisis – including the 16-year blockade of Gaza and its devastating consequences,” said ITF President Paddy Crumlin. “This prolonged blockade, together with increasing violence and tensions in the occupied West Bank and continued oppression of the Palestinian people, remain the fundamental issue. The only viable path to lasting peace is an end to this illegal occupation and a two-state solution.”
ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said: “The ITF calls on the international community to take immediate action to de-escalate the situation and prevent further loss of innocent lives. We urge all parties involved to engage in meaningful dialogue and diplomacy to find a peaceful resolution to this long-standing conflict.”