Hundreds of professors and self-described international law experts have published a joint statement calling on all countries of the world to “act swiftly” to prevent crimes against humanity from being carried out by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
The statement, signed by academics from across the globe, also says, “The international community, including all states and relevant international organizations, must take all measures necessary to ensure immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas.
“Any delay in action will result in more loss of human life and aggravated human suffering,” it warns.
The statement describes crimes against humanity as “acts conducted as part of a ‘widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.’”
“The acts that may constitute crimes against humanity include, among others, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence and persecution. The abduction of people without provision of information regarding their whereabouts constitutes the crime of enforced disappearances,” it says.
“Furthermore, available information indicates that many abductees were tortured by their captors,” it adds. “These acts were multiply committed by Hamas toward the hostages in execution of its policy to attack civilians, and thus constitute crimes against humanity, for which perpetrators must bear full accountability.”
“In addition to taking hostages, according to information posted on social media and testimonials of survivors, members of Hamas deliberately targeted their attacks against large numbers of civilians, committing murder, torture, rape, mutilation and molestation of bodies,” the statement also said, adding that “each of these acts constitutes a war crime.”
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said earlier today that one of the hostages captured by Hamas, identified as Mia Schem, a 21-year-old French Israeli, was speaking “under duress” in footage of her released by Hamas on Monday.
“There is no question in my mind that that woman gave that video testimony under duress, probably forced to do it,” Kirby said on NBC’s “Today” show. “It’s a propaganda video much more than it is proof of life or certainly proof of concept for Hamas. It’s despicable, deplorable that they would take these hostages and then advertise how well they are treating them when they are the ones who hurt them in the first place.”