We are heartbroken by the escalating violence in Palestine and Israel. We send our sympathies and solidarity to all who have lost loved ones. We mourn with you and hold all experiencing violence – and everyone waiting to hear if their loved ones are safe – in the Light.
More than 900 Israelis and 700 Palestinians have been killed over three days. Bombing of Gaza continues, and Israeli troops are being moved into position for a potential ground invasion. More than a hundred Israelis have been taken hostage. The borders of Gaza have been hermetically sealed and Israel is blocking the entry of fuel, electricity, water, food, and goods into Gaza, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
If attacks on Gaza continue and the borders remain sealed, a deepening humanitarian crisis is inevitable and thousands more will be killed.
U.S. and European governments have expressed support for Israeli military action. The U.S. is sending Israel weapons for the attacks on Gaza.
The Israeli escalation is being justified by explicitly racist rhetoric. When announcing the siege on Gaza, the Israeli Defense Minister referred to Palestinians as “animals.”
Israeli military action is not what is needed now; it will only inflict more suffering. Instead, we need leadership that demands an immediate end to all violence and seeks long-term solutions to end the injustice and inequality that led to these devastating events.
Addressing this violence at its roots requires a clear look at the situation as it has unfolded over time. AFSC began doing relief work in Gaza in 1949, and even then we spoke about the need for justice for Palestinians. Our staff have been present in Gaza throughout all the Israeli attacks over the last decades, and AFSC has long advocated for an end of the Gaza blockade. We have witnessed the destruction, death, and suffering wrought by Israel’s Apartheid policies and ongoing use of military violence – all with U.S. support.
Through this experience it has become clear to us that security cannot be created by systematic oppression. Palestinians suffer from daily violence and collective punishment, while much of the world does nothing. One need not dig deeply into the history of the 75 years of occupation to find the evidence to prove that point. Look at the conditions this year:
The people in Gaza are in the sixteenth year of a crippling blockade, with little access to electricity, medical care, jobs, education, or other essentials of a decent life. Even before the Palestinian attacks and Israeli military response on October 7, during 2023 more than 250 Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli military. More than 1,100 had been forced from their homes. More than 800 attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers have resulted in injuries and property loss. All this persists under the watch of a far-right Israeli government who has functioned with total impunity.
This is apartheid. And it must end for lasting peace to flourish in the region.
We all deserve to live in peace, freedom, and safety. We call on the U.S. and other members of the international community to focus immediately on diplomacy to end this current crisis, to call for the honoring of UN resolutions and international humanitarian laws, to halt the flow of weapons which will further violence, and to change long-term policies that ignore the Apartheid realities and Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights. All of this is a central part of calling for peace.
As a Quaker organization, we believe peace is more than the mere absence of war. There is no true peace without justice and history shows us that people who are oppressed will continue to find ways to resist their oppression. The human costs of continuing along the current path are far too great. The only path to lasting peace for Palestine and Israel is by uprooting occupation and apartheid.