The Michigan Peace Alliance calls for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to release all prisoners, to restore vital services for Palestinians in Gaza, and to provide a cooling off period before more substantive negotiations.
The severity of the moment cannot be overstated. As we reel from the horror, pain and loss of the last few days, in which thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have been killed and wounded, we must speak out against the imminent mass slaughter of Palestinians and the possibility many thousands may be expelled from Gaza and the potential great loss of life among the Israeli military. After Hamas’s war crimes against 1,300 Israeli civilians, the Israeli government is beginning what will be an even greater war crime against 2.3 million Palestinians. The United Nations General Secretary has called Israel’s “total blockade” of Gaza a violation of humanitarian law.
As this is written, Israel’s ultra-right-wing government has amassed 300,000 troops on the border of Gaza, likely prepared for a bloody land invasion, which may have started after this statement was issued. It has cut off fuel, food, water and electric power for Gaza, exacerbating an increasing humanitarian disaster, saying they will not be restored until Hamas releases all captives. In the week since Hamas’s attack, Israel has dropped more than 6,000 bombs on civilians there in an area just twice the size of Washington DC. It has just issued a statement that one million people should leave northern Gaza within twenty-four hours, an impossible task. This amounts to a blatant, massive violation of humanitarian law against “collective punishment” of civilians. Even without a land invasion, the suffering, wounding and killing of innocent civilians has already begun and will continue far into the future.
In the face of this impending catastrophe, the Biden administration has irresponsibly not called for restraint from Israel but has publicly thrown its full support behind whatever the Israeli government decides to do. We may hope that behind the scenes it is calling for restraint, but no evidence shows this so far. Moreover, Israel cannot carry out its full military options against Gaza without American military support, which apparently is already being supplied.
In responding to this increasing catastrophe, the Michigan Peace Alliance, consisting of over 30 Michigan peace groups, recognizes that the long-term solution to the crisis in Palestinian/Israeli relations would be a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians; however, given the escalating crisis, the immediate call of peace forces should be focused on preventing any further unfolding of this catastrophe before the full horror of this moment crosses the point of no return.
The Michigan Peace alliance calls for Israel, Hamas and the United States to take the following steps:
Israel and Hamas, supported by the United States, must agree to an immediate ceasefire while negotiations are started on other matters;
Israel should immediately restore all services and supplies, such as water, food, fuel and power, to Gaza to prevent a further humanitarian catastrophe;
Israel should allow humanitarian supplies from the United Nations, NGOs and countries to immediately enter Gaza;
The United States should not provide additional military supplies than that already given while negotiations are underway;
Israel and Hamas should begin negotiations on the status of hostages and other matters to stabilize the current situation preparing the way for further negotiations on longer term matters in the future.
The Michigan Peace Alliance urges its members to publicize this statement to its organization’s individual members, to the press, to our representatives and to the general public using any resources at their command.