Horror, Grief, and Urgent Advocacy: Responding to Devastating Violence in Israel and Palestine

By World BEYOND War Canada, October 10, 2023

It has been heartbreaking and terrifying to stand before the escalating violence carried out by Hamas and the Israeli military. To bear witness to an unending stream of photos, videos and accounts of massacres at a music festival, apartment buildings leveled to the ground, children and elders being taken hostage, entire families wiped out with one missile. We mourn the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life as thousands are finding out their loved ones have gone missing, are injured, have lost their homes, and have been killed, with numbers rising by the minute.

We want to take this moment to amplify the words that some of our allies have shared over the past few days.

Reality is shaped by when you start the clock. 

JVP: Reality is shaped by when you start the clock. For the past year, the most racist, fundamentalist, far-right government in Israeli history has ruthlessly escalated its military occupation over Palestinians in the name of Jewish supremacy with violent expulsions and home demolitions, mass killings, military raids on refugee camps, unrelenting siege and daily humiliation. In recent weeks, Israeli forces repeatedly stormed the holiest Muslim sites in Jerusalem.

For 16 years, the Israeli government has suffocated Palestinians in Gaza under a draconian air, sea and land military blockade, imprisoning and starving two million people and denying them medical aid. The Israeli government routinely massacres Palestinians in Gaza; ten-year-olds who live in Gaza have already been traumatized by seven major bombing campaigns in their short lives.

For 75 years, the Israeli government has maintained a military occupation over Palestinians, operating an apartheid regime. Palestinian children are dragged from their beds in pre-dawn raids by Israeli soldiers and held without charge in Israeli military prisons. Palestinians homes are torched by mobs of Israeli settlers, or destroyed by the Israeli army. Entire Palestinian villages are forced to flee, abandoning the homes and orchards and land that were in their family for generations.

IfNotNow: We cannot and will not say today’s actions by Palestinian militants are unprovoked. Every day under Israel’s system of apartheid is a provocation. The strangling siege on Gaza is a provocation. Settlers terrorizing entire Palestinian villages, soldiers raiding and demolishing Palestinian homes, murdering Palestinians in the streets, Israeli ministers calling for genocide and expulsion. These are the provocations of the most extremist right wing government in Israel’s history and an emboldened fascist movement escalating this crisis across the land.

A knee-jerk militaristic response will only bring more violence

On October 7 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced Israel’s response to the attacks by Hamas: “We will turn the cities of evil into islands of ruin.” On 9 October 2023, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defense, stated: “We are imposing a complete siege on [Gaza]. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel – everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly.” Later that day, Israel indeed cut off all electricity, food, water and fuel to 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, over 50% of whom are children. The current aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip is one of the largest Israel has ever conducted.

IJV: “The lives cut short in the past 48 hours are a tragedy, evidence of the need for an immediate ceasefire, not an escalation of violence. Attacks against civilians are in violation of international law, regardless of the perpetrator and whether by immediate violent force or by long-term structural oppression. The civilian deaths caused by the Hamas offensive are an unacceptable consequence of 75 years of unacceptable conditions, part of an attack that is neither unprovoked nor justifiable. Israel needs to be held accountable for its decades of crimes against humanity, crimes that have put Palestinians in a position where violent retribution and death feels like justice.”

CJPME: While Israel has declared its intent to retaliate forcefully, observers demand to understand Israel’s endgame, as entering yet another cycle of violence will do nothing to bring peace or security to either Israelis or Palestinians.

The threats from Israel and the West are not of police actions or justice or defense, but of escalations of the ongoing, illegal, genocidal assaults that never end on the people of Palestine. Everyone from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch to Israel’s B’Tselem has concluded that Israel is engaged in enforcing Apartheid. A new escalation of the attacks on Gaza will benefit no one at all, other than weapons companies like Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest, who has already seen a rise in its share price of nearly 10% since last week.

Canada must immediately call for a ceasefire, stop arming Israel, and end all support for the occupation. 

We echo the many calls from around the world for an immediate ceasefire. And we call on the Canadian state to actively support a negotiated resolution.

IJV: But that is not enough to guarantee a more hopeful future for everyone in occupied Palestine – Israeli apartheid, occupation and settler colonialism are the underlying issues that must be addressed in order to move towards a future for the region where all can thrive. If these issues remain unaddressed, we fear that Israel will not be satisfied until it has satisfied a bottomless desire for disproportionate revenge, as has been proven time and time again.

The blood of everyone who has died over the past few days is not only on the hands of the Hamas and the Israeli military, but on our own government which arms, supports, and funds Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and which is currently applauding the military escalation promised by the Israeli government. Canada exported over $21 million in military goods to Israel in 2022, including over $3 million in bombs, torpedoes, missiles, and other explosives.

Canada must immediately stop arming Israel and end all support for the occupation.

CJPME: Instead of cheering on Israel as it takes out its revenge on the people of Gaza, Canada should be working with international partners to stop the bloodshed and hold Israel to its obligations under international law.

Coalition of Canadian Palestinian Organizations: Furthermore, we urge the Government of Canada to refrain from issuing one-sided statements that unconditionally support Israel. It requires courage to acknowledge that the international community’s pattern of affirming such unconditional and unchecked support has not contributed to peace but has instead provided diplomatic cover for Israel’s violent actions against Palestinians.

We also denounce efforts by Canadian lawmakers and police forces across the country to criminalize Palestinian solidarity protests. The Palestinian community has every right to free assembly and free expression as they respond to the events of the past week and mourn the horrific loss of life. It is unacceptable to conflate gatherings of Palestinians across Canada as a threat to Jewish communities.

 Inevitably, oppressed people everywhere will seek — and gain — their freedom.

JVP: Inevitably, oppressed people everywhere will seek — and gain — their freedom. We all deserve liberation, safety, and equality. The only way to get there is by uprooting the sources of the violence, beginning with our own government’s complicity.

CPT: The safety of Palestinians and Israelis can only be achieved through the complete dismantling of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We demand a solution that includes equality not apartheid, demilitarization not occupation, and decolonization and freedom for all.

Take action via CJPME’s online tool — Tell Trudeau: Push for end to bloodshed in Gaza.

Read more of World BEYOND War’s recent articles and analysis on the violence in Palestine and Israel here.

3 Responses

  1. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WBW . This wonderful organization derives its moral authority from opposing all war . Supporting one side over the other is fine as a voter political expression to our own government.
    It casts doubt on WBW’s sincerity when it comes from our organization.

    It is fine to support one side as a private citizen and lobby our governments.
    But WBW works to abolish all war no matter the protagonists.
    Please don’t muddy the waters if you want our message to be taken up by the world.

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