Editorial: Calling for Ceasefire in Gaza

Hundreds of students blocked the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor diag with their bodies as part of a “Die-In” demonstration, Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Lon Horwedel Special for The Detroit News

Hundreds of students blocked the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor diag with their bodies as part of a “Die-In” demonstration, Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Lon Horwedel Special for The Detroit News

Humanitarian supplies and a ceasefire are desperately needed in the Gaza Strip.

World leaders, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, have been calling for an immediate intervention to protect the innocent.

In a press release, Guterres said, “With too many Israeli and Palestinian lives already lost, this escalation only increases the immense suffering of civilians. The level of humanitarian assistance that has been allowed into Gaza up to this point is completely inadequate and not commensurate with the needs of people in Gaza, compounding the humanitarian tragedy.”

Since the war broke out on Oct. 7 between Israel and Hamas, civilians in both Israel and Gaza have been devastated by the war.

Aid for Israelis was immediate after the attack from Hamas led to the tragic deaths of reportedly over 1200 people in Israel, including civilians, and the kidnapping of over 200 Israelis.

Gaza’s residents are trapped, and aid efforts have been prevented by relentless bombing. Only a few basic essentials are available, including food, clean water, and medical supplies.

Aid from a number of nations, including India, Rwanda, Qatar, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, is waiting to be delivered as soon as there is safe passage in and out of Gaza.

In reaction to the recent Hamas attacks, the European Union has tripled its funding for the region and is creating an air bridge.

Certain EU nations, including Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, have temporarily stopped aid to Gaza while waiting for a pause in the violence. At least eight planes carrying aid have touched down at El Arish International Airport in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.

Approximately 3,000 tons of relief, transported by more than 200 vehicles, are awaiting authorization from Israel to enter Gaza.

Food, water bottles, and World Health Organization (WHO)-supplied medical supplies are all included in the aid.

But fuel, which is essential, particularly for medical facilities, is not included.

The amount of relief that has been sent thus far barely makes up for the daily average that was needed prior to the recent conflict.

The Rafah border gate was briefly opened between Egypt and Gaza to allow aid to reach Gaza.

But in order to handle the growing humanitarian situation, the border must remain open constantly.

While receiving aid is essential for meeting urgent humanitarian needs, it might not be sufficient on its own, particularly in a war zone like Gaza where a ceasefire has not been declared.

Both the aid itself and the humanitarian workers themselves might be targets.

An area is needed that is considered a war-free zone so humanitarian groups may prepare more effectively and strategically.

Better cooperation and the ability to address long-term recovery requirements are made possible by a ceasefire.

A ceasefire is a moral imperative to prevent the loss of more innocent lives.

A ceasefire is needed to enable those killed to be buried with dignity, stop the spread of illness, and put a halt to the violence so that much-needed fuel, food, water, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid can be provided to the thousands still living in Gaza.

A ceasefire is needed to make it possible for victims and seriously ill people to receive medical attention, for people to be able to travel safely and follow Israel’s evacuation orders, and to allow rescue and medical professionals and their equipment to enter.

An estimated 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes in Gaza and seek safety at UN healthcare facilities and educational institutions since Israel began its bombing campaign on Oct. 8.

The war has resulted in damage to hospitals in Gaza, as seen by the errant missile that struck the parking lot at Al-Ali Baptist Hospital, which resulted in the deaths of over 500 people.

Additionally, 24 hospitals—including the biggest hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa Hospital—have received evacuation orders from Israel.

As Israel intensifies its military operation in Gaza, which has killed over 8,500 people, according to Palestinian health officials, a number of international aid agencies have demanded a halt to hostilities.

Officials from the Biden Administration and Israel have aggressively resisted such demands, arguing that bringing the fight to a complete standstill would only serve Hamas.

Nine Democratic senators and one independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, issued a statement together on October 27 that stated, “We are calling for humanitarian pauses to allow full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian assistance for civilians and the immediate, unconditional release of all remaining hostages.”

Less than two weeks have passed since four House Democrats, including Reps. Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib, demanded a cease-fire. Tlaib added in the statement, “We need legislation that saves as many lives as possible, no matter one’s faith or ethnicity.”

“Today, I am thinking of human beings in Gaza buried under the rubble,” Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party in England, said on X, formerly Twitter, on Oct. 31. “We need a ceasefire, now.”

According to Reuters, Pope Francis urged a cease-fire in a speech on Oct. 29. He said, “Let no one abandon the possibility of stopping the weapons.”

A resolution presented to the UN on Oct. 27 calling for an “immediate” humanitarian pause received support from 120 nations. Forty-five nations abstained, while 14 countries—including the United States—voted against it.

Atalia Omer, a professor of religion, peace and conflict studies at the University of Notre Dame, said, “An immediate stop to bombardments and ground invasions as well as the cessation of rockets by Hamas” must be included in any negotiations for a cease-fire.

In a letter to President Biden, 55 prominent actors and artists have urged him to “call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, before another life is lost.”

On Nov. 4, thousands of demonstrators and supporters of a ceasefire in the Gaza war gathered in cities worldwide.

Sit-down demonstrations in London saw sizable numbers obstructing Oxford and Piccadilly Circuses before heading to Trafalgar Square. “Freedom for Palestine” was written on protestors’ banners, and they also yelled “ceasefire now” and “in our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians.” About 30,000 individuals, according to the Metropolitan Police, attended the event.

The British government has argued for humanitarian pauses to let assistance into Gaza as opposed to directly calling for a ceasefire.

Marching in Paris, hundreds of people held signs that said, “Stop the cycle of violence” and “To do nothing, to say nothing, is to be complicit.” One of the first major pro-Palestinian rallies that was permitted by law in Paris since the start of the war was this one. Protesters demanded a peaceful settlement with two states—Palestine and Israel—and showed support for the Palestinian people.

Marching under the slogan “Stop war, no racism,” approximately 4,000 demonstrators supported a cease-fire through the streets of Milan. At the same time, there was a far-right protest in a neighboring square with the slogan “in defense of the West.”

A fair and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative, as demonstrated by the global protests, which highlight the urgency with which people throughout the globe are demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the crisis.

As reported by CNN, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow are demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

IfNotNow’s political director, Eva Borgwardt, told CNN: “We feel the resonances of that in our bones as Jewish people whose ancestors went through the Holocaust, when we hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant use words like ‘the children of darkness’ and ‘human animals’ to describe Palestinians.”

Rabbi Alissa Wise, a rabbinical council member with Jewish Voice for Peace, told CNN, “If we’re going to learn anything from history, it’s that the things that we stand for are for everybody, no exception, and that includes Palestinians.”

Director of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights New York Office, Craig Mokhiber, announced his resignation, citing the UN’s “total failure” to safeguard Palestinian rights and enforce international law.

Josh Paul resigned from his position as the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ director of legislative and public affairs. He accused the Biden administration of showing “intellectual bankruptcy” by supporting Israel without limitations.

Bolivia firmly denounced the “aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive” in Gaza by severing its diplomatic ties with the country.

Concerned over the civilian losses in Gaza, South Africa, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Jordan, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors to Israel.

Under the leadership of Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz, the Sumat party in Spain has demanded penalties in addition to an arms embargo on Israel.

Multiple workers’ unions released a combined statement stating that thousands of Belgian transport workers had collectively refused to load and unload weapons meant for Israel.

Around the world, calls for a ceasefire and the solidarity of the Palestinian people have sparked protests and rallies.

On Nov. 3, protesters in Oakland and Tacoma, Washington, clung to the boat’s ladder to postpone the departure of a U.S. Navy vessel that was supposed to transport weapons to Israel.

On Nov. 6, protesters in Missouri shut down all exits to a Boeing weapons manufacturing facility that supplies Israel with bombs.

Many organizations have expressed support for a ceasefire, including the Starbucks Workers United Union, the National Lawyers Guild International, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many additional writers, artists, and celebrities have also signed onto similar statements.

To date, 14,532 people have been killed in Gaza, including more than 6,000 children and over 4,000 women. Over 30,000 have been injured. Over 70 percent of the dead and injured are women and children.

Israel decided to stop the violence for four hours every day as of Nov. 9. In an agreement partly negotiated with the help of Qatar and Egypt, starting on Nov. 24, Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary four-day cease-fire to permit the exchange of hostages and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The temporary ceasefire is not enough to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In Gaza, vital medical treatment, housing, trauma relief, and food aid are actively being provided by organizations such as the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, UNRWA, Save the Children, and Doctors Without Borders. You can save lives by contributing to these organizations or helping them in any way you can.

Each of us has the ability to bring about change. By getting in touch with your political representatives and requesting a permanent ceasefire, you could potentially make a difference.

It is time to take action. Gaza needs a lasting ceasefire and significantly more humanitarian aid.