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  • 7 min read
  • Published: 8th April 2024
  • Press Release by Jacqui Corcoran

Report calls for international action on forcible displacement of Palestinians

A new report highlights how six months of Israel’s devastating military assault on the Gaza Strip has precipitated a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and the forced displacement of nearly two million Palestinians within the besieged enclave.


A new report highlights how six months of Israel’s devastating military assault on the Gaza Strip has precipitated a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and the forced displacement of nearly two million Palestinians within the besieged enclave. 

The report from Oxfam and ActionAid, titled “Compelled to Flee”, says while Palestinians have experienced a long history of mass forced displacement, the current onslaught in Gaza is unprecedented in terms of violence and levels of displacement, raising clear concerns that serious violations of international humanitarian law and atrocity crimes are being committed on a vast scale. The report also highlights Israeli plans to expel Palestinians en masse from Gaza.

"The horror of a planned ground offence on Rafah looms large. Governments must actively prevent any action by the Israeli government that could extend or legitimise forced displacement of Palestinians within the occupied territories, including any ‘evacuation plans’.

“Israel has been clear about its plans to clear Gaza and thankfully world leaders have rejected this. This must be followed with further measures – particularly to address forcible transfer, which is likely to have already occurred inside both Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The US, for instance, has not demonstrated any inclination to shift from a policy of unconditional military support for Israel, even when its apparent ‘red lines’ are crossed.

"If Israel will not change course, then the international community must use every tool we have to demonstrate to Israel that its illegal actions will not be tolerated.

"If the people of Gaza do not die from the bombings, they could die from hunger. We need an immediate and lasting ceasefire and the opening up of all border crossings allowing in life-saving aid."

— Oxfam Ireland CEO, Jim Clarken

Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland, said: “Israel’s devastating military assault on the Gaza Strip – deemed by the International Court of Justice to constitute a risk of genocide – is completely unprecedented. Over 75% of the population has been displaced, many multiple times. Israel has orchestrated the destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including essential services and facilities. Together with the imposition of severe restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid, it has rendered Gaza unliveable.” 

“Israel has also taken actions that exacerbate the effects of forced displacement – many of which also amount to war crimes, including attacking civilians, launching indiscriminate attacks, starvation and collective punishment. This is a human made and entirely avoidable crisis. The international community must move immediately to bring it to an end.”
“Israel has a history of dispossessing Palestinians. The failure to hold Israel to account for decades of Palestinian dispossession has created an environment in which Israel acts with increasing impunity. Nations bear legal and moral obligations to protect civilians, prevent atrocity crimes and uphold international law.
— Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland

The report said the displacement in Gaza is likely to constitute “forcible transfer” which is a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and which is defined as both a war crime and a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

The report also says since 7 October there has also been a dramatic increase in settlement building and in the severity and regularity of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, accelerating displacement.

UN figures show that between 7 October and the beginning of March there were 603 settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank resulting in casualties and property damages with 1,240 Palestinians from 19 herding communities displaced as a direct result of settler violence.

The report calls for:

  • A full, immediate and unconditional ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip. 
  • Any actions or policies by the Israeli government that could legitimise or lead to the ongoing or extended forced displacement of Palestinian residents to be opposed.
  • All possible steps to be taken to ensure that all displaced Palestinians within Gaza and the West Bank are permitted to safely return to their usual place of residence as soon as hostilities in those areas cease.
  • Ensure that all essential aid, including water, food, medicine and fuel be allowed into Gaza immediately to meet the needs of the civilian population, including the specific needs of women, children, elderly people and people with disabilities.
  • Demand that Israel complies with international law by ending the military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the 16-year closure and blockade of Gaza.
  • Ensure the full participation of Palestinian women’s and young people’s organisations in humanitarian funding decision-making processes and
  • Prompt, thorough and effective investigations by qualified and independent bodies, including judicial and non-judicial accountability mechanisms, of all alleged violations of international law in the context of the OPT. 



Displaced case studies:

Kawther, 27, mother to a newborn displaced to a school shelter

“I was pregnant when the war began, and I gave birth on the third day [of the war]. We fled under missile strikes, with debris and shattered glass flying everywhere. We arrived at the hospital, but it was soon bombed as well. We had to walk to Jabalia camp where we stayed for a week.”

 “When the week ended, we were forced to leave again… We were a complete mess when we arrived there, I gave birth as a result of fear. I gave birth under bombardment, the shattered glass and debris were everywhere… I was so scared that it jeopardized my pregnancy. My placenta was dropping before my contractions started.”

“We faced many issues; I could not get nappies for my child nor sanitary pads for myself. We fled our homes in our summer clothes, we didn’t expect the war to last this long. We do not have spare clothes nor mattresses to keep our children warm. We don’t have nappies, no food and no baby formula, and no mattresses, either.”

ActionAid Gaza staff member

“Unfortunately, at this time, during the recent assault on Gaza, I wasn’t able to help anyone, as I was amongst those who needed help. I was displaced from my home three times.”

“As a woman, I’m suffering. I don’t have access to the basic necessities of life. I suffered during my period. There was no water available for me to get clean. I had no sanitary pads for my own needs throughout my period.”

“We feel helpless looking in our children’s eyes, we are unable to ease their worries. We cannot say “It will be alright” or “You’re safe”. Truthfully, there is no safe place in Gaza. Nowhere is safe here, north or south.”

 “We only want this war to stop immediately. We request for the bloodshed, the killing of women and children to stop. My biggest wish now is to go back home. To sleep on my own bed, and use my own bathroom, that’s all.”

Fatima, a new mother displaced to a school shelter

“I spent the last three months of my pregnancy as a displaced person, sleeping on the floor. I was ill and exhausted, and that heavily affected my pregnancy.”

“When my contractions started, an ambulance took me to Al-Awda hospital in Nuseirat. It was such a long way there. We were continuously attacked on the way to the hospital. And the hospital barely had enough resources.”

“I tried getting some baby essentials. Not much was available for me, and I barely had any money to buy what I need. I bought used clothes, just a few pieces to get by. But I only managed to get two changes of clothes for my baby.”

“I didn’t have proper food or drinks to help with my milk supply after I gave birth. Toilets [at the shelter] are dirty and very polluted. And hepatitis is spreading. I was really scared for my baby [being at risk] from disease. There’s a large number of people living here, and it’s bad for a newborn. It is unsanitary and unhealthy for a baby to live here. I’m sad that my baby has been born amid this suffering and need.”