With over 1,000 Israeli and more than 700 Palestinian casualties so far, the pain felt by those of us both in the region and connected to it cannot be overstated. The lives cut short in the past 48 hours are a tragedy, evidence of the need for an immediate ceasefire, not an escalation of violence.
Attacks against civilians are in violation of international law, regardless of the perpetrator and whether by immediate violent force or by long-term structural oppression. The civilian deaths caused by the Hamas offensive are an unacceptable consequence of 75 years of unacceptable conditions, part of an attack that is neither unprovoked nor justifiable. Israel needs to be held accountable for its decades of crimes against humanity, crimes that have put Palestinians in a position where violent retribution and death feels like justice.
For decades, civilians in Gaza have been subjected to routine massacres, restrictions on electricity, medical attention and water, faced bombings and lived under a suffocating blockade. In the past year, Palestinians have been targeted by Israel’s most right-wing government in its history, which has escalated its attacks against them.
Now, Israeli civilians are being abducted and killed in the deadliest attack on the state in years.
IJV calls on Canada to demand a ceasefire immediately. But that is not enough to guarantee a more hopeful future for everyone in occupied Palestine – Israeli apartheid, occupation and settler colonialism are the underlying issues that must be addressed in order to move towards a future for the region where all can thrive. If these issues remain unaddressed, we fear that Israel will not be satisfied until it has satisfied a bottomless desire for disproportionate revenge, as has been proven time and time again.
The Canadian government has opposed Palestinian attempts at non-violent resistance, whether through efforts to boycott, divest and impose sanctions or through appeals to international courts and the UN. When non-violent resistance is seen as unacceptable, labelled antisemitic or terroristic, Palestinians are thus stripped of the tools to advocate for their lives, liberties and livelihoods.
The conditions under which Palestinians have been forced to live in the Gaza Strip are unconscionable. The only solution to this ongoing violence is to address its root causes, and that requires supporting Palestinian-led movements to confront and resist Israeli apartheid, as well as pushing governments like Canada to oppose Israeli crimes against humanity.
Canada’s ritual and vacuous endorsement of Israel’s “right to self-defence” gives the right-wing Israeli government cover to continue destroying Gaza, committing further violence against Palestinians under occupation. We must remind everyone that Palestinians, like any occupied people, ultimately have the right, by international law, to resort to armed violence to resist their occupation – so long as that violence distinguishes between civilians and combatants.
Canada must call for a ceasefire, condemn Israeli apartheid and work towards a peaceful resolution that upholds the rights to life and freedom of both Palestinians and Israelis.