The attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas are horrendous. Local organisation Women Wage Peace, which wrote a blog on the Peace SOS website, reveal on their Facebook page that many of its members have lost a loved one. They condemn the carnage caused by the terrorists; the young lives lost during a festival. Many sat in their shelters while terrorists roamed their homes, and some were taken as hostages to Gaza. The death toll in Israel has reached 1,300 and the number of injured is around 3,300. I am extremely shocked by this.
At the same time, Peace SOS is also in contact with a family in Gaza which, with Peace SOS’ help, is providing vegetables for those in need in Gaza. The family consists of a man, his pregnant wife, and their young child. From the man we received the poignant news that many children from the school class he taught have been killed. As evidence, he sent us a gruesome photograph. They have been fleeing bombings since Saturday and the man expressed his fear of genocide. The death toll in Gaza had reached 1,200 by 11 October, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and 339,000 people had fled their homes.
Peace SOS therefore advocates for an end to violence, for peace. Women Wage Peace also continues to reach out for peace with the mothers of Gaza. I hope the ground offensive does not go ahead. There are already many civilian casualties in Gaza, and where are they supposed to go now that Egypt refuses to allow passage? The two million people in Gaza cannot be compared with Hamas, leaders who were elected in 2006 but then simply stayed in power.
Let us strive fir a ceasefire first with the help of a mediator. On 9 October, the Arab League secretary-general has already called for an end to hostilities between Hamas and Israel. As proposed by the United Nations, the hostages should be released and the complete blockade on Gaza should be lifted so that water, food, humanitarian aid and electricity can reach the suffering population. Furthermore, as Doctors for Peace suggests, there should be a humanitarian corridor to provide emergency aid.
Once there is a ceasefire, there will have to be a resolution to the long-standing conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. According to the UN 2023 report, Children in Armed Conflict, among others, in 2022, 55 children were killed, 55 of whom were Palestinian and 1 Israeli. A two-state solution or a secular one-state solution with equal rights for all are obvious solutions. This could be achieved with the help of local organisations, including, for example, the organisation Minds of Peace, which organises public peace negotiations between Israelis and people from the West Bank. Brave Israeli and Palestinian parents whose children were killed in the conflict, united in the Parents Circle Families Forum, are also working for peace. Research by Professor Séverine Autesserre shows that violence ends when local peace organisations are placed in the driver’s seat. And when contributions are made to a culture of peace. This horrific violence must be stopped. Let us cherish all lives, especially children’s lives.
Author: May-May Meijer
This article has been published in Dutch on the website of JOOP BNNVARA October 13, 2023