The people are paying the price for decades of Israeli oppression

We, Belgian Jews and Jews living in Belgium, are shocked and pained by the violent escalation in Israel/Palestine and the hundreds of lives lost in the last days. We mourn the deaths, wounds and inhuman suffer of family members, friends, fellow activists, and their loved ones, in Israel and in Gaza. As the rabbis say in the Talmud, and as expressed in the Quran, each lost soul is an entire world, and saving a soul is like saving an entire world. In these difficult times, we wish to stop this loss of lives and work for uprooting the causes of the current wave of violence.

The events of the past days demonstrate a failure of the Israeli years-long strategy to lock 2.3 million people in a besieged territory surrounded by fences, surveillance mechanisms and snipers, regularly bombarded, and without any possibility to live dignified life. The root of the violence that we see now is oppression: millions of Palestinians in Gaza, as in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian territories, continue to live for decades under the heel of the Israeli army, which determines almost every aspect of their lives. While Biden, Netanyahu and Arab leaders are trying to strike diplomatic deals behind the back of the Palestinians and at their expense, the unfolding events prove that any such ‘deals’ are bound to fail.

The Israeli civilians who lost their lives in the last days are the victims of these failed strategies and of the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli governments and military forces. Intensifying the oppression and the violence will only bring more terror and horror to Israelis and Palestinians alike. The only way to guarantee security and prosperity to citizens on both sides is to work tirelessly towards a future of real freedom and justice to all.

We call for immediate de-escalation, an end to the bombing of civilian population and humanitarian infrastructures, a release of civilian prisoners, an exchange of prisoners of war, and direct negotiations between Israel and the Gaza-based government and all fractions of the Palestinian leadership. The Belgian government and the EU should put their efforts in this direction, in concrete action to push the Israeli government towards a sustainable solution, instead of fueling the violence with irresponsible rhetoric and the continuation of their year-long negligence of the real problems that are at stake in Israel/Palestine. But more importantly, we know that only dedicated work of civilians from both sides to dismantle the structures of Apartheid and oppression could lead the way for the wounded land to heal.