We, Israelis and Palestinians who work together for conciliation and peace, are horrified and pained by the tragic war underway between our two peoples.
Israelis were shocked and horror-struck by the vicious Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, in which over 1,400, mainly civilians including women and children, were killed and more than 200, among them infants and the elderly, were taken hostage. Barrages of rockets and missiles continue to be fired on Israeli cities from the Strip, disrupting daily life and causing damage and casualties. Skirmishes are taking place on Israel’s northern border as Hezbollah weighs its options, raising alert levels and fears of a regional escalation.
Palestinians are devastated by the Israeli retaliation to the attack, which as of the end of October had killed approximately 10,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians including 2,000 women and 4,000 children, and injured some 25,000, most of them seriously or critically. The situation is catastrophic because of the lack of medicine and medical supplies, food, water, fuel, and electricity. With attention diverted to Gaza, the Israeli army is continuing operations against Palestinians in the West Bank, and unrestrained settler violence has been unleashed. Between October 7 and 27, more than 110 Palestinians were killed and some 1,700 arrested. According to Al Jazeera, the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has doubled to approximately 10,000 since the war began.
Over 100,000 Israelis, particularly from the southern kibbutzim, lost their homes or were forced to leave them because of the fighting and have become refugees. In Gaza, more than a million Palestinians have been turned into refugees as a result of the demolition of tens of thousands of residential buildings, and as of October 29 close to 2,000 have been reported as missing under the rubble. The death and displacement on both sides is invoking images of the Holocaust for Israelis and the threat of a second Nakba for the Palestinians, driving them further apart as historical traumas rise to the surface.
We strongly condemn any and all attacks against civilians. The targeting of civilians, regardless of their religion, race, or nationality, is a war crime in accordance with international customary law, humanitarian law, and international conventions and must be halted immediately. As long as the fighting goes on, both sides must adhere to the rules of warfare.
Amidst all this horror, we remain true to our belief that violence, from either side, is not the answer, and we choose to see in this crisis an opportunity for new thinking and action.
The 1973 war shattered the conventional wisdom about the region that had been in place since 1967, eventually leading to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. For the sake of both peoples, the security of the region, and the stability of the world at large, we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that this current, tragic war will lead to a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict that realizes the mutual right to national self-determination and the establishment of a viable, sovereign State of Palestine based on the June 4, 1967 lines living alongside the State of Israel in peace and harmony.
The failure of the international community to assume an active role in securing a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would end the occupation and create a new reality based on the two-state solution contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict and the violence and suffering on both sides.
We call upon the international community to help negotiate an immediate humanitarian cease-fire that will enable the flow of humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Gaza. We also call for its involvement to secure the release of all the Israeli hostages in exchange for all the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Furthermore, we call for immediate international engagement to prepare for a new post-war reality in Gaza with a mechanism aimed at eventually uniting the Strip with the West Bank under Palestinian governance.
The international community can no longer stand aside. It is clear that the continuation of the Israel-Palestine conflict will have consequences that reach far beyond our borders. Only through active international involvement will we be able to realize the dream of “No more war; no more bloodshed” for Israelis and Palestinians.