MAW calls for an end to violence, steps towards peace

Movement for the Abolition of War is appalled by the escalation of violence caused by the Hamas atrocities of last Saturday. The mass murder of civilians, particularly children, and the taking of hostages is an outrage against humanity and a flagrant breach of international law.

One war crime, however, does not justify another and we implore Israel not to continue with its ruthless retaliatory action which is creating a humanitarian catastrophe, but instead to cease immediately its blockade of food and fuel, allow humanitarian corridors and prepare for an imminent ceasefire and cessation of the onslaught.

We call on our own political leaders to take a more statesmanlike and responsible stance. To state that they stand fully with Israel and to offer military aid is to ignore the context of this situation and risk making it worse. True leadership would involve recognising that this war did not start last week, and engaging with all sides to bring about a ceasefire and a move towards a long-term just settlement. It would, most importantly of all, involve full support for the UN Secretary General as he attempts to do just that.

In the long term it must be recognised that there is a background to this eruption of violence and one for which we in the UK have a historic responsibility and should be more aware of. This latest conflict, horrendous though it is, is actually similar to the violence that has been inflicted on Palestinians on an everyday basis for many many years: indiscriminate shooting including of children and the elderly, forced entry into homes, destruction of houses and farms, occupation of land and general erosion of all dignity and self-determination.

Both Israelis and Palestinians yearn for a peaceful secure fulfilling life but there is no military way of achieving this. Dominance and revenge will never bring security. Many Israelis already recognise that the only hope for a better future lies in bringing an end to the apartheid policy, occupation and siege of Palestine and promoting a future based on justice, equality and dignity for all. The United Nations must assist in this transition and must be given full and genuine support by world leaders to achieve this. As Haggai Matar said from his home in Tel Aviv ”It is not in spite of the horror that we have to change course – it is exactly because of it”.