The Middle East Peace and Justice Action Committee (MEPJAC) is encouraging members to call your representatives to ask them to support the Ceasefire Now Resolution led by Reps. Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib. Bush and Tlaib have been joined by Representatives Andre Carson, Summer Lee and Delia Ramirez, along with at least 12 others who have added their names in support. Please refer to the ‘Actions’ section at the end of this article.
The past few weeks have been heartbreaking as we follow what is happening in Gaza. Rashida Tlaib (Michigan 12th District) said in an email dated October 27, “After dropping 12,000 tons of bombs on Gaza – the size of the nuclear bomb that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima – the Israeli military said it was ‘expanding’ ground invasion actions yesterday, then destroyed Gaza’s internet and phone service.” The Ceasefire Now Resolution calls for a ceasefire and the facilitation of humanitarian aid.
Each night, the bombings seem stronger than the previous night, and it is continuing non-stop despite all of the cries for a ceasefire. This past week, 1.5 million people demonstrated in London, England, and one million in Istanbul, Turkey. Thousands marched and demonstrated in most of the world’s major capitals, in Malaysia, France, Belgium, Australia, Morocco, and Spain, for example. Two hundred Jews were arrested, wearing black T-shirts saying “Not in my name” and “Cease-fire” at Grand Central Station in New York City. News reports indicated that 10,000 people participated.
As of November 1st, the Gaza health ministry says at least 8,796 Palestinians, including 3,648 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes since Oct. 7, according to Reuters. These figures represent bodies recorded officially as dead, but there are hundreds of missing persons buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings whose deaths have not been recorded.
On the Israeli side, there were 242 people taken hostage, according to the BBC, who are prisoners “in the tunnels of Gaza”. Reports say 7 of the hostages have been killed by the bombardments. Families of the hostages have created a community support center so they can have “a hostage daily forum”. They have been campaigning to release their loved ones and to process their pain. Hamas has released 5 of the hostages, and says it plans to release more in the coming days. It previously said that all of the hostages would be released when all of the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were released from Israeli prisons and administrative detention (imprisonment without charges or trial). According to Al Jazeera, since October 7, Israel has doubled the number of Palestinians in its custody, from 5,200 before the Hamas attack to more than 10,000 since.
On October 28, as Israel entered the “second phase” of its war with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his first priority was the destruction of Hamas, followed by the release of the hostages. Israel appears to be on an expanding mission to destroy Gaza, shown by the constant bombardment of the area. Some have speculated that they want to clear Gaza of its Arab population. We have to remember that some of our members alerted us to the fact that there are important oil resources that were found recently in the sea near Gaza. The economic motive cannot be discounted.
A week ago, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “I reiterate my strong appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, together with the unconditional release of hostages and the delivery of relief at a level corresponding to the dramatic needs of the people in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes”.
A resolution at the United Nations calling for an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza was voted for by 120 governments. Australia abstained with 14 other countries, including Israel and the United States, because this document did not name “Hamas” as the perpetrator of the attack on October 7, 2023, which initiated this current war. Australia did, however, support the aim of the resolution, which called for food, water and medicine to reach Gazans.
We also have to remember that for 75 years, Palestinians have endured displacement, restricted movement and, since the 1967 occupation, they have lived under harsher conditions: checkpoints, discrimination, housing destruction, arbitrary imprisonment of children and adults as well as the risk of being shot by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In 2018-2019, during the Great March of Return, 223 Gazans were shot dead because they ventured too close to the border fence with Israel.
What is often lost in the coverage of the current situation is the humanity of the population of Gaza. Little mention is made of what these people have endured under occupation. Even President Biden minimized their suffering, asserting that Hamas attacked Israel “totally unprovoked”. There have been many provocations.
A ceasefire would allow important time off to rethink sanely what to do and tend to help the Gazans who are living in horrid conditions now. Please refer to the International WILPF statement for additional information. It can be found here.
- We are grateful that most of our members have already contacted their Representatives to call for a ceasefire and for humanitarian aid. Even if you have called at least once, please call your representatives again, asking them to support the Ceasefire Now Resolution put forward by Representatives Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, and at least 17 co-sponsors. Please help us to multiply messages to Congressional representatives and senators. You can find the text of this resolution here.
- In addition, Congress may soon be voting on a $106 billion supplemental national security funding request sent by the White House on October 20, which included $3.5 billion in funding for Israel. We need constant calls and demonstrations to prevent this from happening.
Our urgent demand is for an immediate ceasefire, release of hostages, and the free flow and delivery of humanitarian aid. Our message should be that additional weaponry only adds fuel to the fire and encourages escalation. What is needed is de-escalation and diplomacy.
Thank you for making this a top priority.