October 13th, 2023

Dear Cornell Law,

In the last 24 hours, the Israeli government has intensified its siege of the Gaza Strip, ordering the evacuation of over 1.1 million Palestinians within 24 hours in preparation for a ground assault on north Gaza. As pointed out by numerous international organizations, evacuation within this timeframe is obviously impossible. The Gaza Strip, which has suffered under conditions described as “hell on earth” for the past two decades, struggles under a nearly absolute air, water, and land blockade. Compounding the suffering, the Israeli government has recently shut off electricity, water, fuel and internet to the Strip’s 2 million residents in clear violation of international law.

While the Israeli and American governments continue to rightly condemn Hamas’ murders of civilians and children, women and children in Gaza suffer in international neglect under Israeli retaliatory bombing runs. At least 447 children and 248 women lay among the dead as the Israeli government pummels the Gaza Strip with over 6,000 bombs in just six days. These numbers vastly exceed the average yearly bombing by the U.S. in Afghanistan from 2013–2018.

Despite clear warnings that Israel will inflict grievous civilian casualties in the course of its response to Hamas, the U.S. not only unequivocally supports these actions but discourages its diplomats from calling for “de-escalation/ceasefire,” “end to violence/bloodshed” or “restoring calm.” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken even took the extraordinary step of deleting his own social media posts calling for a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Israeli president Isaac Herzog rejected the very concept of an innocent Gazan civilian, stating “[i]t is an entire nation out there that is responsible… It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not being aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.”  Former PM Naftali Bennett was even more curt, responding to questions about Palestinian civilian casualties by responding to a Sky News anchor: “Are you seriously — keep asking me about Palestinian civilians? What is wrong with you? Have you not seen what’s happened? We’re fighting Nazis.” 

As Palestine’s death toll now exceeds that suffered in the original assault by Hamas, current PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the Israeli response is “only the beginning” should frighten all members of our community opposed to the wanton death of civilians.

Earlier, NLG urged you to mourn the civilian lives lost to this conflict. In the spirit of this statement, we the undersigned assert the time has come for action. We urge you to take the following steps to stand with innocent Palestinians as they weather the bombardment, invasion and destruction ahead.

Griffin Perrault

Allayne Thomas

Cole Quigley

Sophia Gilbert

Nate Squires

Malcolm Drenttel

Rodrigo García