OPINIONS

Thu 22 Feb 2024 1:30 pm - Jerusalem Time

The world’s moral failure in Gaza should shame us all

The G20 members must use their political leadership and influence to help end the war in Gaza.


As the Group of 20 (G20) meets in Brazil this week, the reported death toll in the Gaza hostilities is nearing the 30,000 mark. I hope this gives the foreign ministers convening in Rio de Janeiro a reason to reflect on what their countries have or have not done to stop this.

To say that the war in Gaza is pitiless and is an example of utter humanitarian failure is not news. There is no need to restate the obvious. Instead, allow me – on behalf of my humanitarian colleagues – to warn you not just about today but what I fear for tomorrow.

What has been unfolding in Gaza for the past 138 days is unparalleled in its intensity, brutality and scope. Tens of thousands of people killed, injured or buried under the rubble. Entire neighbourhoods razed to the ground. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced, living in the most abject conditions even as winter sets in. Half a million people on the brink of famine. No access to the most basic needs: food, water, health care, latrines. An entire population is being stripped of its humanity.

The atrocities befalling the people of Gaza – and the humanitarian tragedy they are enduring – are there for the world to see, documented by brave Palestinian journalists too many of them have been killed while doing so. No one can pretend not to know.

No one can pretend not to know either that humanitarian agencies are doing their best: Nearly 160 of our colleagues have been killed, yet our teams continue to deliver food, medical supplies and safe drinking water. We are doing everything we can, despite the security risks, the collapse of law and order, the access constraints and the personal tragedies. Despite the defunding of the largest UN organisation in Gaza. And despite the deliberate attempts to discredit us.

The humanitarian community which I represent has just released a plan outlining what we need to increase the flow of aid into and across Gaza. None of it is unreasonable: security guarantees; a better humanitarian notification system to reduce risks; telecommunication equipment; removal of unexploded ordnance; use of all possible entry points.

But although I have often said that hope is the currency of the humanitarian, I have little hope that the authorities will give us what we need to operate. I want nothing more than to be proven wrong.

We know without a shadow of a doubt that humanitarian agencies will be blamed – we are already being blamed – for the lack of aid in Gaza, despite the courage, commitment and sacrifice of all our teams there.

But make no mistake: The deprivations that the people of Gaza have been enduring are so severe that no amount of aid is enough.

The obstacles we are facing every step of the way are so enormous that we can only provide the bare minimum.

The October 7 attacks on Israel are horrific – I have condemned them repeatedly and will continue to do so. But they cannot justify what is happening to every single child, woman and man in Gaza.

So my message to the G20 foreign ministers this week is clear: We have been pleading with Israel, as the occupying power in Gaza, to facilitate aid delivery – to little or no avail.

We have been calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages – to little or no avail.

We have been urging the parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law – to little or no avail.

We have been exhorting countries which have stopped funding UNRWA to reverse their decision – to little or no avail.

Today, we implore you, G20 members, to use your political leadership and influence to help end this war and save the people of Gaza. You have the power to make a difference. Use it.

Your silence and lack of action will only lead to more women and children thrown into the open graves of Gaza.

Humanitarian agencies are doing everything they can. Are you?

Tags

Share your opinion

The world’s moral failure in Gaza should shame us all

MORE FROM OPINIONS

War on Gaza: A cruel month of massacres for Palestinians as the US mask is ripped off

Middle East Eye

War on Gaza: Why Israel's savagery is a sign of its impending defeat

Middle East Eye

How America Can Prevent War Between Iran and Israel

Foreign Affairs

Arab Countries Have Israel’s Back—for Their Own Sake

Foreign Policy

Iran and Israel’s Dangerous Gambit

Carnegie Endowment

Hawks' calls to strike Iran now are wrong

Mark Champion

Can Israel Harness Its Rare Moment of Regional Support?

Foreign Policy

The West now wants 'restraint'- after months of fuelling a genocide in Gaza

Middle East Eye

Israel-Palestine: The End Game

Gershon Baskin

Israel made mistakes on Gaza. It has more to lose on Iran

Haaretz

Israel decides to attack Iran and the Middle East is in a state of boiling

op-ed "AlQuds" dot com

Amid the Israel-Iran escalation, it’s time for a region-wide ceasefire

Aljazeera

How Iran attacks exposed Israel's weakness

Middle East Eye

Netanyahu is leading America to the edge

Nabil Amr

Biden should not follow Netanyahu into war with Iran

responsiblestatecraft.org

‘Disastrous’: Israel-Iran tensions test limits of US policy amid Gaza war

Aljazeera

War on Gaza: Western powers never believed in a rules-based order

Middle East Eye

The Only Way for Israel to Truly Defeat Hamas

Foreign Affairs

What will the future bring between Hezbollah and Israel?

Aljazeera

A victory for anti-Zionists in the UK

Aljazeera