This statement updates the HIC Statement of 23 October 2023.

Amid the most-recent escalation of violence in Zionism’s century-long persecution of the Indigenous Palestinian People, the Palestinian Islamist Resistance Movement (Hamas) and its militant `Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, launched an unprecedented armed operation, retaliating against Israel on early 7 October 2023. The Palestinian resistance forces fired more than 5,000 rockets toward 22 targets outside the Gaza Strip, including Israeli military bases and illegal Israeli settler colonies along the Gaza border, including Ashkelon, Be’eri, Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, Nahal Oz, Ofakim, Sderot, and Zikim. (See link to profile of these targets below.)

Some 2,000 Palestinian militants breached the separation fence between Gaza and Israel with bulldozers, transport vehicles and motorcycles. In the attacks and counter-attacks, some 1,139 Israeli soldiers and noncombatants were killed, and about 2,800 wounded. Palestinian militants—and alleged “friendly fire” from Israeli Apache helicopters—killed at least 260 revelers at a music festival at Kibbutz Re’im, after fighters arrived in trucks and on motorcycles, wearing body armor and brandishing AK–47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Failed and Indiscriminate Responses

The operation took Israel’s highly reputed military and security forces by surprise. It signaled the most-significant failure to date of Israel’s exercise of ‘self-defense,’ claimed as a right despite Israel’s predatory nature since Zionist colonies began. The Palestinian operation evaded Israel’s much-vaunted ‘iron dome’ anti-missile system and its security and intelligence apparatus, embarrassing Israel’s Netanyahu government domestically and globally. Immediately after the attacks, Israel has continuously retaliated by killing some 1,500 Palestinian fighters and launching indiscriminate air and land-based attacks against civilians, residences and infrastructure across the Gaza Strip, while belatedly asserting its right to self-defense.

Meanwhile, the international community of states has ignored calls for a cease fire or pause and to address the root causes of violence. Four draft Security Council resolutions calling for a cease fire due to the United States veto (joined once by UK). Thereafter, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (with 121 votes in favor, 14 against and 44 abstentions), calling for the same on 27 October, whereupon Israel promptly launched its most virulent attacks to date against the 2.3 million Palestinians held hostage in the Gaza Strip under Israel’s 16-year-long blockade.


The Palestinian attacks resulted in the destruction of Israeli military targets and equipment, and Hamas continues to hold some 180 of the original 230–38 Israeli military personnel and civilian persons hostage inside Gaza, where Israel already has sequestered the over two million current Palestinian inhabitants hostage for decades.

Subject to the first 4-day ceasefire and hostage exchange are 150 Palestinians held by Israel in its prisons, among10,000 Palestinians in detention or in prison on security grounds, including 176 from the Gaza Strip. This number has doubled in the past two weeks, adding some 4,000 laborers from Gaza who were working in Israel and now held in Israeli military bases, plus 1,070 other Palestinians taken captive in overnight army raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. All are subject to denial of medical care and eventual prosecution in apartheid military courts.

In addition, Israel has held the entire 2.2 million population of the Gaza Strip hostage and under an illegal and inhumane blockade since 2007. About 70% of those long-term Palestinian hostages are refugees and descendants of refugees whom Israel forcibly expelled from their homes in 247 villages in the southern 50% of Palestine in 1947–48. They form part of a 60–80,000 refugees in 1948, driven by a dozen Zionist massacres committed by Israeli forces, composed of 120,000 soldiers in nine brigades. Those forces forcibly transferred those present-day hostages, sequestering them into a small place now called Gaza Strip, which is 1.3% of Palestine.

Casualties amid Resistance, Retaliation, Retribution and Genocide

The 7 October attacks mostly targeted sites of current and historic Israeli military activity, including the conduct of war crimes and crimes against humanity (see table in annex below). Whether categorized as an act of resistance or retaliation, Hamas/`Izz al-Din al-Qassam operations targeted Israelis in key nearby locations. The illustrative table below identifies them by the current name of the corresponding Israeli settler colony, their original Palestinian habitat and their disposition (fate) under Israel’s colonial regime.

In their direct retaliation to the recent 7 October operation, Israeli occupation forces have continued for nearly a month at this writing to pound the Gaza Strip heavily from air, land and sea, as well by ground operations. As of 24 November, the indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed over 14,800 Palestinians, including about 6,000 children and 4,000 women. Israel is now killing Palestinian children at a rate of 430 per day. Over 36,000 persons are left injured.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians are still missing and trapped under the rubble, fates unknown. Israel`s assault has forced more than 1.7 million Palestinians—nearly 80% of the Gaza Strip population—into internal displacement. Nearly 896,000 are sheltering in 99 facilities in the south of the Gaza Strip.

Since 7 October, Israeli forces have killed 213 Palestinians, including 55 children, and injured 2,877. Meanwhile Israeli settlers have killed an additional eight, including one child, have been killed by Israeli settlers in 281 attacks across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Four Israelis have been killed in retaliatory attacks by Palestinians.

The number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank since 7 October accounts for 48% of the total 454 Palestinian fatalities there. About 66% of the fatalities since 7 October have occurred during confrontations that followed Israeli search-and-arrest operations, primarily in Jenin and Tulkarm Governorates; 24% have been in the context of demonstrations over the genocide in Gaza; 7% have been killed while attacking or allegedly attacking Israeli forces or settlers; 2% have been killed in settler attacks against Palestinians; and 1% during punitive demolitions.

Israeli settler and military violence in the West Bank has displaced 143 Palestinian households since 7 October, and caused untold damage to Palestinian property and institutions. In addition, Additionally, 162 Palestinians, including 82 children, have been displaced since 7 October following demolitions in Area C and East Jerusalem, due to lack of permits; and 48 Palestinians, including 24 children, have been displaced following punitive demolitions.

Israel’s bombardments have killed over 100 UN staff so far, as well as dozens of journalists and the targeted families of journalists.

Targeting Homes, Shelters and Shelter Seekers

The widespread and systematic targeting of civilian structures and properties has left more than 46,000 destroyed housing units and severely damaged 234,000 in Gaza (60% of housing), rendering them uninhabitable. Israeli attacks also have destroyed or severely damaged water and sanitation facilities and other civilian infrastructure, including 26 hospitals and 55 other healthcare facilities. With nearly 900,000 IDPs in the south of the territory, an unknown number of Gaza residents remaining in north and central Gaza are also huddled in unsafe, unsanitary and overcrowded quarters.

With respect to the human right to adequate housing in cases of conflict, Israel’s tactics constitute a of population transfer, a war crime and crime against humanity, consistent with Israel’s civil and military practice targeting Palestinian (Golan Syrians and South Lebanese) homes, shelters and shelter seekers. By this particularly lethal form of population transfer in Israeli military doctrine, the Israel army and air force compel civilians to flee by columns into concentrated locations, then attack them there to maximize casualties. Israel’s military operations force civilians to leave their often-demolished homes, while targeting them with tactics and weapons already prohibited by universal moral and humanitarian standards, and corresponding legal norms.

HIC and its Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) have repeatedly exposed and warned against this long and unbroken chain of Israeli atrocities against the Indigenous Palestinian People, including the various forms of collective punishment they have been forced to endure the over 75 years of Zionist colonization, 55 years of military occupation of the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the 16-year-long comprehensive blockade of the Gaza Strip. The resulting humanitarian crisis that has been severe in the past, is currently catastrophic.


As the UN Secretary-General observed, the 7 October Hamas operation “did not happen in a vacuum.” Over the years, we have repeatedly drawn attention on the serious crimes committed by Israel of targeting homes, shelters and shelter seekers “as military doctrine.” This is coupled with a civil apartheid regime of continuous denial and destruction of Palestinians’ habitat: land, housing and means of subsistence, amid the failure of most states in the West and the international community to take effective measures toward protection of civilians, remedy and reparation.

We have also repeatedly reported and warned about the institutionalized material discrimination, dispossession and persecution of the Indigenous Palestinian People through measures that amount to the serious crimes of population transfer and apartheid. The enduring apartheid within the context Zionist colonization has sought the removal of the Indigenous Palestinian People and acquisition of their land and other resources by any and all means. As always, the dispossession of the land spells the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ inalienable right to self-determination and means of subsistence.

We continue to remind all states of their prior and permanent duty under peremptory norms of international law to fulfil Palestinians’ right to self-determination, while the same states bear corresponding individual, collective, domestic and extraterritorial obligations to implement effective measures that bring an end to this protracted illegal situation.

The current wave of Israel’s disproportionately deadly campaign comes one year after the UN Special Rapporteur on and Adequate Housing issued his call, urging states and the UN General Assembly to recognize “domicide” (the massive, arbitrary destruction of civilian housing) under international law as a crime against humanity and a war crime, in cases of violent conflict. We also join the call of UN Special Rapporteurs and other Special Procedures for the international community—especially the complicit Western states—to act against the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people.

Habitat International Coalition (HIC) condemns colonialism anywhere, and the century of colonization of Palestine by self-identified Jewish settlers, in particular. Their Zionist ideology is an abomination of the loftiest of common religious principles, including those of Judaism. Israel’s protracted violence against the Indigenous Palestinian People amounts to another in the series of Israeli ethnic cleansings, this time of some 2.2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It only perpetuates a cycle of violence that threatens regional and global peace and security.

The international community, the UN, its bodies and commissions must address the root causes of the conflict and the ensuing cycle of violence playing out across Palestine. These include the inherently colonial, racist and apartheid ideology of Zionism, imposed through the institutions and law of Israel. That inquiry and policy revision must also recognize the malfeasance of UN bodies and actions through time, including the Partition of Palestine, which violated sacrosanct principles of international law prior to the UN Charter, and enshrined in it at the time. The requirements of justice and consequent peace also require the full remedy and reparation for harm to the Palestinian people as a consequence of states’ individual, joint and collective actions.

HIC and HIC-HLRN repeat again this call, urging all states, especially the colonial powers of the US, UK, EU states and Australia, to cease their material support and hypocritical political cover to Israel. Compliance with international norms of peace and security requires refraining from the transfer of weapons to Israeli that are used in the commission, or facilitation of gross violations of international human rights law and/or serious violations of international humanitarian law that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza, without differentiation between civilians and combatants.

We remind them also of the obligation of states not to recognize, cooperate or transact with the illegal situation of Israel’s occupation and denial of Palestinian self-determination.

We call for an end to the current state of affairs, including the taking of hostages and holding the Palestinian people in the largest open-air prison in the world. We demand an end to Israeli mechanisms of persecution against the Palestinian people such as denial of freedom of movement, apartheid roads, illegal settler-colony expansion and collective punishment of Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip through destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure; systematic and institutionalized targeting and forced evictions, including the serious crime of population transfer; the confiscation of their property, and extrajudicial killing, all forms of persecution committed in a collective manner.

HIC and HIC-HLRN call on members of the United Nations, its commissions and institutions, and the international community as a whole to urgently uphold their responsibility to address the root causes of the conflict and to stop the ongoing Israeli military action and brutal Jewish settler violence against Palestinian women, men and children across the occupied Palestinian territory and historic Palestine at large.

Updated 24 November 2023

Annex: Hamas ‘Civilian’ Targets on 7 October 2023

Photo: An Israeli air strike on a building in the Rimal district of central Gaza City on Sunday, 29 October 2023. Israel’s military said the bombings had targeted a nearby underground network of Hamas tunnels. Source: Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty.

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