The Peace Education Center deplores the violence between Israel and the Palestinian people, in the West Bank and Gaza and especially the targeting of hospitals and civilians. As we write this [July 22, 2014], the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs lists 599 Palestinian deaths, of which 443 are civilians and 147 are children. More than 3,500 have been wounded and 117,000 have been displaced by the attack by Israeli military forces.
We concur with B’Tselem – Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories’ press release from Monday, July 21, 2014.
“The horrific developments in Gaza have reached intolerable heights: Israel is bombing houses with people in them, entire families have been buried under rubble, and streets lie in ruins. Hundreds have been killed so far, dozens in the last 24 hours only, many of them women and children. The number of refugees is rising: tens of thousands of people have nowhere to go and no safe haven, as the besieged Gaza Strip is bombarded.
Israel considers any perceived link to Hamas justification for attack. Hamas considers any place in Israel a target. One party fires at civilians, more often than not missing the target thanks to the Iron Dome defense system. The other party fires at densely populated civilian areas, with deadly results on a shocking scale.
Hamas makes no pretense to follow the laws of war. Israel does, but holds Hamas responsible for its own actions – the dead, the refugees, the destroyed homes. Yet unlawful actions by one party cannot justify unlawful actions by the other, and regardless, each party bears sole responsibility for the outcome of its actions. Israel may proclaim its actions in Gaza to be moral and lawful, but the horrifying reality on the ground makes it impossible to further countenance Israel’s cynical use of legal terms such as “proportionality”, “distinction” and “due caution”. Israel is exploiting these words to justify the death and destruction it is wreaking on the Gaza Strip.
In view of all this, B’Tselem calls on the Government of Israel to immediately cease the bombardment of inhabited homes, neighborhoods and areas in the Gaza Strip.”
We are in solidarity with the Rabbinical Council of the Jewish Voice for Peace [July 18, 2014] when in states:
“We deplore the Israeli government’s military crackdown in the West Bank that led to its lethal, military onslaught on the people of Gaza. We mourn the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, including children.
We condemn Hamas’ rockets attacks on Israel and the anxiety, injury and death they have caused. But we cannot view this as a war between two equal sides. Israel has unlimited hi-tech weaponry; it dominates Gazan airspace, its borders, its utilities and economy.
Moreover, it was Israel who willfully launched this mission of death on the Palestinian people. Israel hides behind the pretext of avenging the still unsolved kidnapping and killing of three Jewish boys. Rather than seeking recourse through civil, legal means, Israel’s leaders have called for vengeance, with terrible consequences.” [July 18, 2014]
We stand with the Nobel Peace Laureates who recently called for a ceasefire.
“As Nobel Peace Laureates, we join others worldwide who are calling on the international community to secure an immediate ceasefire to prevent any further deaths among Israelis and Palestinians. As the situation continues to deteriorate and the disproportionate number of deaths in Gaza mounts, we are called by conscience to speak out in every way possible not only to end the current violence, but to address the roots of violence.
There have been attacks on Gaza before. There have been cease-fires declared before. And yet the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory grinds on. One million and seven hundred thousand Palestinians continue to live under Israeli siege in Gaza. Immediately after the last cease‐fire in 2012, calm did return to Israel, but Israeli attacks did not stop in Gaza.
Peace is more than the absence of outright war. Peace requires the presence of justice, of equality, of recognizing our common humanity. Those who would be brokers for peace must first acknowledge and address the coercive and corrosive power that Israel wields over Palestinians. As Nelson Mandela said in 1985, “Only free men can negotiate: a prisoner cannot enter into contracts.” [July 18, 2014, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Tawakkol Karman, and Muhammad Yunus]
As U.S. citizens we further call for the U.S. government to cease military aid, sales and delivery of weapons or armaments to Israel until a peace accord has been reached between the two states. The violence must end on all sides. We encourage diplomatic efforts with direct talks involving all parties.