IDF Spokesperson's Unit via Wikimedia Commons
Members of Science for Peace, along with worldwide communities and organizations, are appalled and horrified by the killing and suffering in Israel and Palestine. The murderous attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians, which has caused such trauma in that country and generated foreboding and fear in Jewish communities all over the world, is now being followed by Israel’s genocidal assault on the people of Gaza. We stand with the Israeli families suffering their loses, and now we must stand with Gaza’s citizens.
We join many others in a desperate plea to promote a ceasefire in a war being fought on the bodies of non-combatants, currently numbering 4800 in Gaza, with the toll increasing daily - a situation seemingly acceptable to both Hamas and Israel’s military command. The death of an estimated 1000 children, alone, should be enough to force Western governments to send Israel an immediate stand down order. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
The current war was predictable and preventable. The abuses occasioned by Israel’s illegal occupation, are well documented by Israeli and Palestinian historians, UN Special Rapporteurs, NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, and many others. The longstanding humiliations and deprivations experienced by Palestinians, the incarcerations and torture, and the imprisonment and killing of children are the background to this terrible war, with its potentially dreadful geopolitical implications.
As an organization committed to non-violent solutions to conflict - negotiations, provision of urgent life-saving aid, and long-term societal changes to eliminate the causes of war - we urge the Canadian government to promote a ceasefire, and halt providing diplomatic cover for collective punishment. As history tells us, collective punishment only closes the space for peace partners to emerge and Canada must not continue to sanction actions that undercut the path to negotiations and long-term peace. We are inspired by Non-Violence International’s Mubarak Awad and other Palestinian practitioners of non-violence, and by joint Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts like Standing Together and Combatants for Peace. We need to amplify the voices of those astoundingly compassionate Israelis who lost loved ones in Hamas’s vicious attacks, and who in their weeping have asked that their government not perpetrate the same suffering on Gaza’s civilians. We implore the Canadian government to:
1. Call for an immediate ceasefire and for UN intervention, including a demilitarized peacekeeping force.
2. Use its influence to promote corridors for urgent humanitarian relief, including medical supplies, food and potable water, diesel supplies, emergency shelters, and the restoration of electrical power.
3. Increase humanitarian aid to Gaza beyond the $10 million just announced (for both Gaza and Israel) and the $55 million annually sent to Gaza and the West Bank, and advocate opening the seaport of Gaza as a point of entry for aid under peacekeeping control.
4. Pressure for the release of prisoners who have not been charged or who have not committed serious crimes (throwing stones at soldiers should not be seen as a serious crime), and for the release of hostages.
5. Transition to becoming a major and uncompromising force for the promotion of global human rights by refraining from a selective noticing of their violation. Human rights are being trampled in Gaza as we speak – the bombing of civilians, the withholding of water and food, the destruction of homes, forced migration - and our government must be bold and forthright in its protest.
6. These demands are essential to restore temporary peace in the region, but they will prove futile if a long-term solution is not accepted by Israelis and Palestinians. The Canadian government should offer help in the negotiation process that must resume.