Israel has launched a ground operation in Gaza, a drastic escalation of violence. More than 260 Palestinians and two Israelis have been killed in less than two weeks. The majority of the dead since Israeli airstrikes began in Gaza have been civilians, including 50 children.
MADRE calls for an immediate end to Israel's ground operation, to airstrikes from Israel and to rocket attacks from Hamas. All parties must urgently redouble diplomatic efforts to secure an effective ceasefire and end the bloodshed.
Above all, we must prioritize the protection of the civilian lives and human rights. Hamas rocket fire into Israel is a violation of international law and is terrorizing civilians there. Its practice of operating from civilian areas in Gaza has endangered people's lives. Furthermore, under international law, any military action taken by a state must be proportional to the threat that triggers the attack. Israel has not lived up to this obligation. Israel's attacks on Gaza have taken an enormously disproportionate toll on civilians, constituting a form of collective punishment in retaliation for the actions of militants.
Gaza's over 1.6 million residents are living in what has been called the world's largest open-air prison. An Israeli siege in place since 2007 has restricted access to food, water, electricity and other essentials in Gaza, has violated people's freedom of movement, and has throttled the local economy. People in Gaza live in a constant state of humanitarian crisis and have nowhere to escape when the airstrikes rain down.
The events of the past few days have dreadfully demonstrated the cost of this continuing violence and of the disregard for people's lives as merely "collateral damage." We have witnessed the brutal footage of four young Palestinian boys killed by an airstrike as they played on the beach. Three more boys in Gaza were killed as they played on the roof of a house.
What cameras and news coverage often miss are the impacts on women–like the pregnant women who miscarry from trauma or who cannot reach hospital amidst the shelling, or the women who fight deprivation to provide their families with food and care.
MADRE is mobilizing support for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a progressive grassroots health organization that stands for women and human rights. Click here to learn more about these urgent efforts.
MADRE also joins the call of human rights organizations for the United States to end its multibillion dollar supply of military aid for Israel. We reiterate our position that Israel must end their occupation of Palestinian territories as a root cause of these ongoing cycles of violence. Any long-term peace and justice between Israel and Palestine depends on it.