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Photo by AFSC staff Jennifer Bing: Chicago activists join protests around the US calling for an end to violence.
Last week, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) joined the many voices calling for de-escalation of violence by both Israelis and Palestinians, stating that violence and killing must end and that continued military escalation in Gaza, particularly a ground offensive, must also be avoided.
Read AFSC’s full statement here.
Since issuing our statement, attacks on Gaza have continued to escalate. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of July 14, the Israeli bombing attacks on Gaza had displaced over 24,500 Palestinians, destroyed 1,255 housing units, and left nearly 395,000 people without water and sanitation service and another 600,000 at risk of losing access to water.
Additionally, 178 Palestinians (77 percent of whom are confirmed to be civilians) had been killed and more than 1,300 seriously injured.
If violence continues, these numbers will rise. As of July 15, one Israeli has been killed and two injured by Palestinian rockets.
It is clear that this violence must end, but in our statement, AFSC clearly expressed that calling for an end to current violence is not enough. There have been repeated ceasefires between Israel and Hamas over the last decade, but they have not identified or addressed the root causes of the violence and have therefore not led to lasting change.
To create lasting peace with justice, we must recognize that each act of violence, intimidation, or persecution is part of a longer narrative. For instance, the firing of Palestinian rockets cannot be divorced from the broader context of Palestinian dispossession, occupation, and seven years of siege in Gaza. No Israeli military action will end the rocket launches for long or create lasting security.
How do we move toward creating real security for Israelis and Palestinians? First, examine and address the roots of the conflict.
The situation started with the history of European/Jewish settler colonialism that displaced and dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 and before. It continued through an ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and violations of international law. And now, it permeates Israeli and Palestinian institutions, culture, and daily life through systems of power that privilege the rights of Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians.
It is important to call for an end to current violence and obstacles to peace, such as settlement construction, home demolitions, and individual acts of violence. It is also essential for Israelis and those supporting them to confront the deeper issues of injustice and discrimination done to Palestinians. Only then will a just and lasting peace based on equality, freedom, and justice be achieved for both Palestinians and Israelis.
But action must not be limited to Israelis and Palestinians. U.S. taxpayers also bear some responsibility for the ongoing violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories due to our government’s ongoing financial and political support for Israel. And we must challenge corporate complicity in the violation of human rights.
We can support change by supporting the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, demanding an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, and calling on the US government to not only support a ceasefire but also justice.
Take action today for peace.