We call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza
Statement by the MIDI working group
The undersigned organisations have been closely following the developments of the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel these past days with great indignation, shock and a strong sense of injustice. Hamas’ military operation and the ongoing air strikes ordered by the Israeli government have caused tremendous suffering and the loss of many lives.
Hamas’ attacks on unarmed civilians are unacceptable and we condemn them. They do not, in any way, justify the horrifying collective punishment that ensued on the part of the Israeli government. We should not forget that this situation is neither new nor random, but is rooted in an ongoing occupation of more than 70 years. It is not a conflict with “two sides” being at a comparable level, but instead we find an oppressor state – Israel – and an oppressed people – Palestinians – which resists a situation of occupation, systematic human rights violations and a sustained apartheid regime.¹ Moreover, alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory are being investigated by the International Criminal Court and Israeli authorities have ignored many UN resolutions² over the years. In the case of Gaza, the occupation took the form of siege for 17 years and most of the world ignored the daily suffering of what became an open air prison.
These days, people of Gaza see an unprecedented escalation of violence with massive Israeli airstrikes on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, even using white phosphorus bombs. This brought a devastation never seen before, with more than 2500 Palestinians being killed, including 1000 children³. On top of that, the Israeli government cut off electricity, water, food and medical supplies to all the population of Gaza, causing a calamitous humanitarian crisis. All of this leads many, including us, to fear a genocide in Gaza. The mere fact that Israel can cut all water and electricity to 2 million people is indicative of the power imbalance and how Gaza is under total occupation. Until now, no humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza and rapid humanitarian response is needed more than before, to ensure access to water, food, electricity and medical services.
This situation is exacerbated by a supportive narrative of dehumanisation of Palestinians, portrayed collectively as “terrorists”, “anti-semites” and “human animals” by the Israeli government and big parts of Western media, justifying the further escalation of violence through the Israeli military. We want to state the obvious: that 2 million people of Gaza are not 2 million Hamas fighters. Collective punishment is a war crime.
We therefore call:
- upon the Israeli authorities to reach an immediate ceasefire and urgently allow humanitarian support for Gaza, including restoring water, fuel and electricity.
- upon Hamas to stop the indiscriminate attacks towards unarmed civilians.
- upon the international community to take the necessary responsibility and put strong pressure on the Israeli government to reach an immediate ceasefire and urgently allow humanitarian support for Gaza.
- upon all parties to start a genuine peace process.
- for civil society organisations and governments all over the world to speak out strongly against all forms of racism and antisemitism.
Our hearts go out to all families who have suffered immeasurable pain and loss. To all people who are suffering each minute from trauma and terrifying conditions, to those who have been permanently disabled, to the emergency workers who are working in unbelievable conditions with true courage and dedication to their patients.
As peace organisations, we stand for non-violence and peaceful resolution of conflicts⁴. That is why, together with our Palestinian partners, we will keep working for a lasting solution, to end the occupation and apartheid regime, with justice for the people of Gaza and all Palestinians. Until we reach justice, no positive peace can be possible.
Real peace does not happen overnight, it takes courageous people who build it day by day, but it does start with putting an immediate end to the brutality and destruction brought by the use of military force, violence and occupation.
The following organisations signed this statement:
- Coordinating Committee of International Voluntary Service (CCIVS)
- International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) – international office
- SCI Italy
- SCI Catalunya
- Association Volontariat Sans Frontière (VSFr)
- PVN Albania
- Zavod Voluntariat (SCI Slovenia)
- SCI Japan
- Volunteers’ Centre of Vojvodina – SCI Serbia
- SCI Poland
- International Volunteers for Peace (IVP) Australia
- SCI Switzerland
- CVS Bulgaria
- SCI Madrid
- Inex Czech Republic
- SCI Hellas
- SCI Belgium
- Chantiers Jeunesse Maroc – CJM
- Útilapu Hálózat – SCI Hungary
- VIA Netherlands
- IBO international
- IBO Netherlands
- IBO Italia
- IBO Austria
- Volunteers for Peace
- NICE Japan
- IGEEI Philippines
- KVT Finland
- SCI France
- Volunteer Action for Peace
- SCI Austria
- ALLIANCE of European Voluntary Service Organisations
- Solidarités Jeunesses
- Gerakan Kerelawanan Internasional – GREAT