Alerts and Reports 

Tens of Thousands Call for a Ceasefire/Hostage Release Deal

At least, the public atmosphere in Israel has greatly changed in the past six months. In the direct aftermath of October 7, the Israeli public - shocked by terrible deeds committed by Hamas during their one-day incursion into southern Israel - was crying out for revenge. The army's bloody and destructive invasion of Gaza got the virtually unanimous support of the Israeli Jewish society, opposition to the war limited to small and completely isolated groups of very courageous and determined activists.

But half a year of increasingly futile war has shown that the stated goal of "destroying Hamas" is at least very difficult to achieve and might be completely impossible. Though most Israelis are shockingly indifferent to the death and suffering of Gazan Palestinians, they are very sensitive to the growing death toll of young Israeli soldiers, killed daily in an endless grinding guerrilla war. Netanyhau's promises of an impending "ultimate and total victory" meet with increasing skepticism, even among Netanyahu's own voters. And especially, Israelis are very concerned for the fate of the Israeli captives held by Hamas. It has become obvious that continuation of the war will spell death to many of these captives, and that the only way to get them free is through some kind of deal with Hamas. The captives' family members have a very strong moral authority in Israeli society, and great crowds attend their protests and rallies.

By now, the situation in the Israeli public sphere has become polarized into two clear-cut alternatives: Either accept the deal with Hamas offered by the Egyptian and Qatari mediators, which means the release of the Israeli captives in return for a ceasefire and end of Israeli military operations, and the return of Gaza's City's inhabitants to their ravaged city. Or Israel might opt for a flat rejection of the deal and an all out military offensive into the city of Rafah, which might entail a terrible new bloodbath among the many displaced Palestinians which Israel forced to move there in earlier states of the war - and which incidentally would also be the death of Israeli captives.

It seems clear that Netanyhau and his extreme right partners have taken the second alternative. This morning - grotesquely, just as Israel holds the annual Holocaust Memorial Day - the army ordered the inhabitants of Rafah, and the countless displaced Palestinians located there, to move away or be caught in the impending rain of death and destruction.

So, we seem to be heading for new harsh and terrible days - as if the horrors of the past half a year were not enough. But at least, it seems that this phase of the war will see a sharply divided Israeli society, and we can hope for the emergence of a strong Israeli anti-war movement to confront Netanyahau and his evil cohorts.

Adam Keller

"!Netanyahu Is Blowing Our Only Chance "

Tens of Thousands of Israelis Hold Protests, Call for a Hostage Release, Cease-fire Deal

Ha'aretz, May 4, 2024

With an exceptionally large turnout, Saturday's protests are taking place across Israel's major cities; Protesters are also demanding early elections. At a rally in Jerusalem, the father of Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin said: Politicians must remember, we are fighting for real people

Protests against the government and in support of hostage release took place across Israel Saturday night amid reports of a potential deal with Hamas.

The main demonstration, calling for early elections, took place in Kaplan Junction in Tel Aviv, with thousands participating. After the protest, a group of demonstrators broke past a police barricade, and confronted the officers. Dozens blocked Ayalon highway for about a minute, and were evacuated.

Israeli police announced that one demonstrator was arrested in Tel Aviv and 16 others received fines in the amount of 1,000 shekels ($270) each for "obstructing traffic and blocking roads."

A gathering organized by the Hostages Forum at the so-called Hostage Square at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art also took place. Demonstrators in central Tel Aviv, on Saturday.Credit: Itai Ron

Yehuda Cohen, the father of captured IDF soldier Nimrod Cohen, spoke in the rally in Rehovot, in central Israel, where dozens rallied. "It is no longer clear, six months in, if Hamas wants the hostages released to ensure its survival, or our terrible government wants to fail them to ensure its survival," he said.

"These days are fatal for the approval of a deal that would return all hostages. We've been in such days for too long, days of anticipation, of anxiety in the face of all the obstacles Netanyahu and his Messianic friends put in our way," Cohen continued, and called for Israel's leadership to reach a deal that would "return all the hostages, in exchange for a cease-fire."

Dozens also protested at the Karkur junction in northern Israel, where the main speaker was Dr. Yolanda Yavor, who was given a restraining order after being arrested near Benjamin Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea. Dr. Yolanda Yavor speaking at the Karkur Junction rally, on Saturday.Credit: Martin Viler

"We have no more time, period," she said, "not us, and not the hostages. The war over our home isn't only happening in Gaza, it's happening here. We are law-abiding citizens, but the order has been broken. We are not the ones who broke it. The one guilty of the massacre, the members of his bloody cabinet and his despicable coalition, are the ones who broke the order."

Several families of hostages, who announced they would release an emergency statement Saturday at 8:30 P.M. Israel time as a response to Israel saying it won't agree to end the war in exchange for a deal that would return all the hostages, spoke in the Tel Aviv demonstration.

"There is now a deal on the table, that Hamas has signaled it will agree to. But Netanyahu, after Hamas' signals, is once again trying to torpedo the deal, when he announces twice today while hiding under the guise of a 'top political source,' that Israel won't agree to ending the war. Netanyahu is once again trying to torpedo the only chance we have to save the hostages," said Einav Zangauker, whose son is being held in Gaza, on behalf of the families.

Danny Elgarat, whose brother Itzhak is being held in Gaza, spoke at the rally on Begin Road in Tel Aviv, and addressed Prime Minister Netanyahu. "Bibi, you can't fool us. You're stalling to please Ben-Gvir and stay in power. You don't care about the 132 hostages," he said.

"Entering Rafah is a death sentence for the hostages ... you can't stay the prime minister with the blood of 132 hostages on your hands," Elgarat added.

Yael Or, cousin of Dror Or who was killed on October 7 and whose body is held in the Strip, said not a single Knesset member contacted her or her family since it was discovered Dror was murdered.

"We can't listen to this government anymore, these extreme and cruel people, who twist the knife in our hearts again and again, and we can't take their evil, their indifference, numbness and disrespect for human lives, anymore," she said.

Speakers at the anti-government demonstration in Tel Aviv included Yonatan Shimriz, the brother of Alon, who was kidnapped and mistakenly shot to death by IDF soldiers in Gaza. Demonstrators in central Tel Aviv, on Saturday.Credit: Itai Ron

The rally at Hostage Square, organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, coincides with Holocaust Remembrance Day, with speeches from close relatives of hostages and Holocaust survivors.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said in his speech at the rally that Prime Minister Netanyahu "should send a negotiating team to Cairo tonight and tell them to not come back without a deal." He added that his party will support any deal to release hostages from the opposition.

Dalit Shtivi, whose son is held in the Strip, also spoke. "The trauma of the Holocaust, that binds together the Jewish people, is still present today, October 7 happened when we have a home, an independent state, with defense and a military. The most important lesson is not to stand by, because this can't happen in a corrected world," she said. "I send strength to those who run the negotiations, and I believe they don't miss any chance to return the hostages." Dalit Shtivi, whose son Idan is held in Gaza, at tonight's Tel Aviv demonstration in Hostage Square.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Ora Rubinstein, whose nephew Bar is held in Gaza, spoke at the rally, saying: "the hope that Bar is alive and surviving is the only thing giving us strength in these days … [his grandfather] is a Holocaust survivor who managed to escape death and build a home in Israel against all odds."

"Tomorrow we'll mark the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day … every Israeli must know that Never Again is now! Don't let history repeat itself," Rubinstein said, addressing Israel's government.

In Caesarea, protesters calling for Netanyahu's removal gathered outside his private residence, with former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon addressing the crowd. Two protest leaders were recently banned from Caesarea for six months. Demonstrators in Caesarea, Saturday.Credit: Rami Shllush

"It's obvious that the 'total victory' is like the horizon, every time you get close to it, it moves further away," Ya'alon said. "Clearly, this definition serves as a fantasy to the deranged Messianists who allow your personal survival," he continued, addressing Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Ya'alon then called on ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot to leave the government: "What are you still doing there? You entered the government to save this country from crazy people, and since then you've bonded with them, and are prolonging the government's days," he said.

In Haifa, thousands participated in a march, where Lobby 99 founder Yaya Fink spoke. "The kippah on my head shrivels when I hear minister Smotrich and minister Strock. They invented a new Judaism, they don't care about the sanctity of life, they don't care about releasing hostages," he said. One protester was detained by the police, and was released an hour later.

In Jerusalem, approximately a thousand protesters gathered demanding the release of hostages. Jon Goldberg-Polin, whose son, Israeli-American Hersh, was abducted from the Nova rave, spoke at the rally: "Ten days ago, we saw and heard our son for the first time in 201 days. They asked us if we approve the publication of the video, and without hesitation, we said yes, for one reason: to remind the world, leaders, politicians, and everyone involved in negotiations that we are not fighting for a statistic but for real people." A march against the government and for the return of the hostages in Haifa, on Saturday.

Recent protests have sparked outrage and led to police intervention, including the interrogation of relatives of hostages for the first time. On Friday, activists, including hostage family members, protested outside the home of war cabinet member Benny Gantz in Rosh Ha'ayin, urging him to leave the government.

Later that night, three protesters near Prime Minister Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem were arrested. The families of hostages have urged the public to join them in protesting on Saturday night in support of the reported deal with Hamas, emphasizing the importance of ensuring all hostages' safe return.

Netanyahu flagrantly refuses to comply with the ceasefire resolution. The Security Council must take firm action!

March 29, 2024

The following message was today sent to the various Ambassadors accredited to Israel.

Dear Sir or Madam

In January, South Africa appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and charged Israel with state-led acts of Genocide in the Gaza Strip.

The court ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the Genocide Convention and to ensure its troops commit no acts which might lead to Genocide. However, this did not stop Israel from continuing military operations which caused further mass loss of Palestinians civilian lives, and from placing severe restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid.

International agencies reported with alarm the increasing signs of spreading famine in the Gaza Strip, and noted that this was no natural disaster - it is an entirely man-made disaster, caused directly by Israel, its armed forces and its government.

In March the United States - which vetoed several previous ceasefire calls - abstained in the UN Security Council, thus facilitating the adoption of a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. However, the US tried to minimise the impact of this resolution by stating that it is "not binding". Other members of the Security Council responded that all Security Council resolutions are binding by definition, and that there is no requirement to explicitly refer to Chapter VII of the UN Charter for a resolution to be binding.

According to that Chapter VII, entitled "Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression", should a country fail to comply with a Security Council resolution, the Security Council may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures as "complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations". It goes without saying that this would also include a call on all UN member states to cease any supply of weapons and munitions. Should the recalcitrant state continue its defiance, the Security Council may resort to even more severe sanctions.

In the days since the Security Council adopted the ceasefire resolution, the Government of Israel made crystal clear that it has no intention whatsoever to comply. This was expressed in militant statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu, his ministers and senior military officers, and also in continuing large scale military operations in the Gaza Strip and in continuing preparations for a mass invasion of the city of Rafah - despite warnings that such an invasion might cause a terrible death toll among a million and half displaced Palestinians living there under deplorable conditions.

This conduct by the Government of Israel fully justifies and indeed requires the Security Council to go further and use - or at least threaten to use - the above measures placed at its disposal by the UN Charter.

Therefore we, citizens of Israel, are calling on your government to initiate a further meeting of the Security Council, aiming to pass a resolution which would set effective sanctions on Israel - in order to bring about an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip until the end of Ramadan and beyond it.

It should be noted that in November 1990, the Security Council adopted Resolution 678, calling upon Iraq to withdraw its forces from Kuwait and setting a specific date - January 15, 1991 - by which Iraq had to comply or face severe sanctions. At the time, there were in the international media some allegations of atrocities committed by Iraqi troops in Kuwait - but these pale into insignificance compared with the proven reports of what Israeli troops did and continue to do in the Gaza Strip.

Of course, that was under completely different circumstances, when the United States was eager to launch its own war and rain death and destruction on Iraq. Still, an important precedent was created in 1990 of how, under International Law, a state which defies Security Council resolutions can be dealt with. In the very different circumstances of the present, it is highly necessary for the Security Council to repeat what it did in 1990 and set a definite date by which Israel must comply and implement a complete and lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Adam Keller for Gush Shalom Yossi Schwartz for the ISL, RCIT section in Israel/ Occupied Palestine

Stop considering – Recognize Palestine Now!

Demonstration in front of embassies in Tel Aviv, demanding recognition of the State of Palestine state - now!

No people can be free and safe as long as they occupy another people. The denial of the Palestinians' national rights has been the policy of Israeli governments over many years. The horrible results blew up in all of our faces on October 7th. The Palestinian issue, which the government tried to bury inconspicuously behind "separation fences", has now returned to center stage.

And what is the reaction of the right-wing Government of Israel? An intensive effort to prevent any possibility of a Palestinian state coming into being. The war of destruction in Gaza, which makes the Strip uninhabitable, the ongoing violence all over the West Bank and ongoing expulsion of communities, and the moves to delegitimize all Palestinian leadership - all of these are designed to eliminate any chance of a Palestinian state being established.

In the face of these moves, members of the International Community must state a straight forward position - a Palestinian state is a vital and immediate necessity. Its sovereignty must be recognized within the internationally recognized borders - those of June 5, 1967. Recognition of the State of Palestine by the International Community, and especially by the powers that support Israel, can be a decisive step. It might bring to a successful conclusion an inclusive and calculated international struggle against the occupation and for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.

We, Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel, will meet on Friday, March 15, 14:00, at 99 Hayarkon St./Frishman St. in Tel Aviv, and march towards the United States Embassy (71 Hayarkon St., Tel Aviv), demanding the recognition of a Palestinian state now.

Already months ago, the United States said it was "considering" a recognition of Palestine - as did Britain and other Western countries. We call on them to stop considering and proceed here and now with recognizing Palestine.

Only a real political solution to the conflict can provide peace and security to both Israelis and Palestinians

US involvement in the Gaza carnage: Protests in Tel Aviv - and in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles / Urgent appeal to trade unionists

Food Not Bombs: Rally at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv! No to U.S-produced massacre, weapons shipment, and diplomatic impunity!

Tomorrow, Friday March 3, 12:00.

American and Israeli citizens will gather tomorrow, Friday March 3, at the US Embassy (Hayarkon St, Tel Aviv) to demand the US stop arming Israel and end the massacre. Last week over 100 Palestinians were killed and over 750 injured after Israeli troops opened fire at a convoy of food trucks in Gaza City during what has been called the “Flour Massacre.” Since then, the US air dropped food into Gaza - all while continuing to fund the military assault, ship weapons, and provide total diplomatic impunity. The US dropped a mere 38,000 meals - enough only for one meal for just 1.6% of the population.

Join us to demand the US stop arming Israel and a ceasefire now.

An appropriate and praiseworthy response to the carnage: Trade unionists refusing to load munitions for Israel's war in Gaza

Joint Statement

The United States has a long-standing policy of providing Israel with massive amounts of military aid (which incidentally provides enormous profits to the American armament industries). This was greatly expanded and intensified since the outbreak of the current war in Gaza.

The constant flow of munitions from the United States - and to a lesser degree, from other Western countries - is completely indispensable for Israel to sustain its war. Israel's own armament industry could in no way provide for a massive bombing campaign, in which Israel in a few months threw far more bombs on a very narrow and overcrowded strip of land than what the US itself did over years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Supplying arms to Israel has been traditionally justified as "helping Israel defend itself" and anyone objecting to it was castigated as "wanting Israelis to be exposed to danger"'. However, the war which Israel launched - ostensibly as a response to the deadly Hamas attack on Israeli communities and military outposts on October 7, 2023 - was soon revealed to have not the slightest resemblance to any kind of "self defense", and it was never meant to be such.

Rather, it is a completely unrestrained rampage, an orgy of killing and wanton destruction.

Under a constant barrage of enormous one-ton bombs - of which a constant supply is provided to Israel by the boatload - schools, universities, Mosques (and some Churches), libraries, public buildings of any kind and most of the private houses in the Gaza Strip were destroyed or greatly damaged. The city of Gaza was left in ruins, as were many smaller towns and villages. Thirty thousand Palestinians were killed, including more than ten thousand children, and the death toll continues to rise. A million and half people were driven out of their homes, to live in horrifying conditions under the open sky.

The International Court in the Hague, the highest tribunal set up to deal with violations of International Law, met to hear South Africa's charge that Israel's acts in the Gaza Strip may culminate in actual genocide - the most terrible of all crimes. Sixteen out of eighteen judges - prominent jurists of various countries and backgrounds - were unanimous in taking very seriously the danger of genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Specifically, The International Court found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide and issued six provisional measures: ordering Israel to take all steps within its power to prevent genocidal acts, including preventing and punishing incitement to genocide, ensuring aid and services reach Palestinians under siege in Gaza, and preserving evidence of crimes committed in Gaza.

The response of Israeli civil and military leaders was to make preparations for an all-out assault on the city of Rafah - the very place to which Israel had driven, in earlier stages of the war, a million and half Gazans displaced from their homes. Israeli warplanes continue to pound Raffa, the southern town of the Gaza Strip with bunker-busting bombs. Pleas for a ceasefire continue to be ignored by Israel. Indeed, Israeli leaders persist in making preparations for a massive ground assault on Rafah, even though Israel's own allies warn that this may lead to a terrible carnage and an untold humanitarian disaster. Yet President Biden's making such dire predictions has not made him stop the constant supply of arms and munitions to Israel.

It was under these terrible circumstances that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) issued an urgent appeal calling on "trade unions in relevant industries" to refuse to build weapons destined for Israel as well as refusing to transport such weapons.

Some unions in various countries did respond to that call. For example, five Belgian transport unions issued a joint statement saying they were refusing to load or unload arms shipments heading to the war zone, and the Barcelona dock workers’ union announced that it "would not permit activity, in our port, of ships containing war materiel" and called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

We the undersigned, Israeli citizens and activists in political organizations, who are shocked and horrified by the acts of the Israeli government and armed forces, and who want to see a future of brotherhood between Israelis and Palestinians, regard the above acts by Belgian and Catalan trade unions as an appropriate and praiseworthy response to the terrible carnage in Gaza. We call on all other trade unions worldwide to emulate that example, refuse to build weapons intended for Israel and to load or unload such weapons.

Adam Keller for Gush Shalom Yossi Schwartz for the ISL, RCIT section in Israel/ Occupied Palestine

---------- Forwarded message --------- From: Eva, IfNotNow

A large group of people gathered in the rain in front of Boston's South Station, holding banners reading ''Our Safety is Intertwined / No Money for Massacre'' ''Thriving Future for All'' and ''Biden: Lasting Ceasefire Now''

IfNotNow Boston just rallied in front of South Station to demand a lasting ceasefire.

Add your name to our open letter to President Biden: No Money for Massacre.

Dear All,

Tonight, President Biden will deliver his State of the Union address. But first, we have a message for him.

This morning, IfNotNow leaders rallied in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles to demand a lasting ceasefire, a full hostage exchange, and an end to Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.

In Boston, over 50 Jews and allies were arrested for demanding a ceasefire in front of South Station. In Chicago, IfNotNow leaders and Palestinian, Jewish, and multiracial partner organizations are currently holding a 24-hour vigil to address the “State of the Genocide.” And in Los Angeles, we just dropped a massive Ceasefire Now banner on the 110 Freeway.

We need to keep up the pressure on Biden before his speech tonight — and we need you to join us.

If you haven’t already, add your name to our open letter demanding President Biden support a lasting ceasefire and refuse to fund Israel’s assault on Gaza.

When you sign the letter, we’ll make sure you get plugged into opportunities for action near you. Together, we’ll be bringing this message directly to Biden, our elected officials, and extremist organizations like AIPAC that are supporting or enabling Israel’s assault on Gaza.

It’s been heartening seeing such a groundswell of support for a ceasefire this week, from hundreds of thousands of “uncommitted” voters on Super Tuesday to dozens of protests around the country.

But this is still an urgent crisis. Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians in the past five months, and more than two million Palestinians face starvation, disease, and permanent displacement. And in the past week, the Israeli military opened fire — in at least two separate occasions — on Gazans gathering for aid.

We cannot be silent as President Biden and our elected leaders fund and enable these atrocities. We must raise our voices and say: No Money For Massacre. Ceasefire NOW.

Before Biden’s State of the Union address tonight, can you sign the open letter from U.S. Jews demanding a lasting ceasefire now?

Thank you for all you do,

Eva, IfNotNow

We continue to put all our resources into actions to respond to this moment.

IfNotNow Movement 1629 K Street Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006 United States

You are invited to take part in a Jewish-Arab joint demonstration demanding an immediate end to Israel’s war of annihilation, destruction, killing of children, and starvation in Gaza.

Saturday, March 9th 2024, in Umm al -Fahm

No more sorrow, destruction, destruction, despair, and hate! We will march in Tel Aviv, calling "Only peace brings security!"

4 months of sorrow, destruction, destruction, despair, and hate. It's time to end the war and understand that only peace will bring security. It's time for the public, Jews and Arabs, women and men, to go out to the streets and demand the government to stop the madness and turn to another way: a way of a political agreement, of real security for all residents and solutions instead of more troubles and violence.

We have arrived at a historic crossroads and it's time to choose: peace or eternal war, and this is the moment when we the public of Israel have to go out to the streets and demand peace. Join us on Thursday February 29th at 19:00, for a rally and march: Only Shalom will bring security to Tel Aviv. We'll meet at King George on the corner of Ben Zion Avenue.

Is there still a chance to break the cycle of revenge and bloodshed?

By Adam Keller

What made Hamas launch its devastating attack on October 7, precipitating the most terrible episode in this country’s century of conflict and bloodshed? The full answer might never be known, but there are at least two obvious answers.

First, Hamas leader Yihya Sinwar, himself released in a previous prisoner exchange, vowed to obtain the release of his fellow prisoners, still held in Israel. An obvious motive for October 7 was to capture Israelis who might be exchanged for the Palestinian prisoners. Secondly, in the months before October, the US oversaw an accelerated diplomatic effort to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia– without Israel being required to end its occupation of the Palestinians. This would have been taken – quite correctly – as the Arab World abandoning the Palestinians to a never-ending Israeli oppression. Hamas was obviously motivated to strike a powerful blow and demonstrate that the Palestinians cannot be ignored and passed over, and that if ignored they have the ability to cause very big trouble.

However,Hamas could have easily achieved both aims simply by capturing the Israeli armypo sitions along the border and taking dozens of captive soldiers off to Gaza –without needing to overwhelm Israeli civilian communities and perpetrate a terrible series of massacres and atrocities. In fact, from the pure military point of view Hamas had shown considerable skill – planning and implementing without hitch a complicated operation involving thousands of fighters, utterly deceiving the famed Israeli intelligence and achieving a complete strategic surprise, breaching by simple and cheap means the hi-tech Israeli border defenses in which billions of Dollars had been  invested…

In other circumstances, Hamas might have won the grudging respect of generals and strategists – except that they had also shown themselves to be major war criminals, particularly brutal and cruel. Why did they? Here, too, the answer – simple and cruel - is not difficult to find: revenge. Whether or not it was planned in advance, the Hamas fighters who for a day conquered a slice of Israeli territory got carried away into an orgy of rape, torture and massacre. The motive, very clearly,was to get their revenge on Israel and on the Israelis.

They had 75 years of grudges against Israel and accounts to settle, starting with the expulsion of 1948 and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages and the construction of beautiful Jewish kibbutzim on their site, and going on to what Israel did to Gaza in the past twenty years, a suffocating siege and bombings and destruction and  killings every few years. There were thousands of Gazans (not all of them from Hamas by the way) with very many years of accumulated bitter grudges against Israel and just one single day in which to get their revenge. So they wanted to make the most of this one day, pack as much cruel revenge into the few hours they had before being expelled from Israeli territory - and they very terribly managed that, all too well.

Ironically, Hamas happened to have invaded some of the most left-wing and peace-minded communities in Israel. In the indiscriminate killings, several well known Israeli peace activists perished and others were taken off to captivity in Gaza...

Well,where do we go from here? Obviously, the first stage is Israel's own revenge which is truly terrible. Death and destruction rained down on Gaza, destroying the city more thoroughly than Dresden was destroyed in 1945; 25,000 Palestinians dead so far, nearly half of them children, some twenty times the number of Israelis which Hamas killed on October 7. Nearly two million people uprooted from their homes to live as refugees under the open sky, in terrible hunger and rampant disease. 29,000 bombs were thrown on Gaza in three months –many of them one-ton monsters - while the US had used 4000 bombs in five years of Iraq fighting.

Very many Gazans – hungry, destitute, bereaved of dear ones torn to bits by relentless Israeli bombing, knowing that death might descend on them from the sky without warning – must be at this very moment vowing new vows of revenge against Israel. And they will find a way to get this revenge, sooner or later, and then Israel will again take its own revenge, and so this cycle of hatred and bloodshed might roll on and on,for decades or even centuries. Unless we can break this cycle and get peace and reconciliation instead. Can we?

Previous to October 7, Israel was sharply polarized over the Netanyahu Government’s plan to implement “judicial reforms” which would have crippled the Supreme Court and allowed the government to rule without restraint. Tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets, determined to block at any price the government’s plans.Tensions rose to the point where an Israeli civil war seemed an increasingly plausible scenario. And then – in just a few hours, Hamas totally changed the Israeli public agenda. The Israelis’ simple and highly understandable reaction was a very strong and widespread call for National Unity. We have been divided,ferociously confronted each other, and the Enemy used our divisions to attack us and kill us indiscriminately. Let us then forget our quarrels and divisions and unite, Left and Right, to fight and utterly destroy this terrible Enemy!

In the first month after October 7, the whole of Israel was in the grip of a war frenzy such as I have never seen. Walking the streets of Tel Aviv and everywhere the same ever-present slogan: “Together We Will Win!”, “Together We Will Win!” , “Together We Will Win!”. Victory! Victory! Victory! Victory!!! Very reminiscent of the nightmare atmosphere in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. “Together We Will Win!” in enormous big banners spanning house fronts and in small signs on shop windows and on the doors of private homes and in hand made signs made by very devoted young children who lovingly drew every letter of the slogan in a different color of their crayons.

Israelis - including some normally sane and decent people – were full of blind hatred and indiscriminate thirst for the blood of Gazans. I can't blame them too much, revenge is a very basic aspect of human nature – but it was very difficult to endure. A few weeks ago a nice old lady which I know for a long time, a cultured lady who likes Classical Music and often shows the photos of her sweet grandchildren, calmly expressed the opinion that, since "Gazan children are brought up to become terrorists" it would be a good idea to kill them already in the cradle, it will save the trouble of killing them as grown terrorists fifteen or twenty years hence. I did not get up there and then and I did not tell her I did not want to see her ever again, though the thought of doing so did come into my mind. No, I hotly debated with her for about ten minutes and then we moved to more neutral subjects and continued sipping our tea for another two hours and then we parted still as friends. Though I did feel tainted by it, as if I had betrayed the Gazans and became a minor accomplice to war crimes. But cutting myself off from ordinary people and finding refuge in a cocoon of the few people who share my opinions and feelings would not be the right thing to do, either.

This friendly and monstrous old lady was fairly typical. The atrocities of Hamas have totally blinded Israelis to the pain of Gazans. The Israeli media, endless reiterating the horrors of October 7, hardly ever showed the terrible destruction and carnage in Gaza. Israelis did not know of it and did not want to know – except for the all too large fraction of the public who did know of it and were deliriously happy with it and wanted ever more death and destruction visited on the Gazans.

For the first time which I can remember, there were made specific and explicit public calls for genocide, assertions that there were “no innocents in Gaza”, that all two million Gazans were Hamas supporters and all of them deserved to die – or at the very least, ethnically cleansed  and chased off  into the Sinai Desert. Indeed, but for General Sisi of Egypt making it crystal clear that he would not tolerate Gazans being forced into Egyptian territory, this ethnic cleansing of Gaza might have already been an accomplished fact.

Calls for killing, for mass killing and ethnic cleansing, even for genocide, can nowadays be made with impunity. It is those who call for compassion who are severely punished. Hundreds of people who dared express sympathy for the innocent victims in Gaza and mourn the dead children were stigmatized as “Hamas supporters” and ostracized, some being arrested by police or losing their jobs.

In the early months, anti-war demonstrations were very few and small, and only very courageous people dared attend them. The police, controlled by a notorious extreme right minister,announced that no protests against the war would be allowed, and used extreme violence to enforce this ban.

There was one loophole which was available to us: demonstrations by the families of the Israelis kidnapped by Hamas. We actively participated in them, though these were not anti-war demonstrations as such. At least to begin with, the families reiterated their support for the war and their admiration for “our brave boys fighting in Gaza” and only added that the government must do all it can to bring the captives back. Nevertheless, it was clear to see that there was some contradiction between the call to bring back the captives “at all costs” and the call to utterly destroy Hamas “at all costs”. The contradiction became more and more obvious, especially after a tragic incident in which three Israeli captives in Gaza, who managed to escape their Hamas guards and tried to approach an Israeli army unit, were shot to death by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers.

By now there are explicit anti-war statements by some of the Gaza captives’ families, and the protests by the families have gathered enormous momentum and became a true mass movement, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands. There is a growing public debate about whether or not to accept a prisoner exchange deal, which would bring back the Israeli hostages from Gaza but also include a prolonged ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners considered "dangerous terrorists".

The general atmosphere is gradually changing.The war in Gaza seems long and interminable, the crushing of Hamas seems a very faraway goal and the army chief say it would take the whole of 2024 and possibly longer – and every day the names and photos of ever more soldiers killed in Gaza are published. So the “gung-ho” war enthusiasm is increasingly evaporating. Though many “Victory!” signs and placards are still to be seen in the streets,they seem rather tattered, and when one falls down it is often not replaced.

The world – including the US, Israel’s big friend - has become aware that there is a very big problem here in the Middle East, which must be treated and cannot be allowed to fester. The statements  of President Biden – who initially gave full support to the Gaza war and supplied plenty of ammunition and bombs – are becoming more explicit in calling for the Two State Solution to be implemented in the here and now - much to Netanyahu's displeasure.

And meanwhile, a true Israeli anti-war movement emerged from the darkness of persecution. After some hesitation by the judges, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem did come down on the side of basic civil rights and militant anti-war demonstrations are now a possibility – thought still harassed by police and far smaller than in earlier wars, such as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

As I write (second half of January),two heartening anti-war demonstrations have taken place, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Haifa, both drawing thousands of participants. Most touching is that in both, the speakers included people who personally suffered the Hamas attacks on October 7, and saw their dear ones being killed. No one could have blamed such people for being bitter and seeking revenge. But to the contrary,they made very heartwarming and touching speeches, explicitly rejecting revenge and strongly reiterating themes of peace and reconciliation. In two places – Cinematheque Square in Tel Aviv and Paris Square in Haifa – such inspiring and heartening speeches were made, like a cool and refreshing blow of wind after the furnace of blind hatred in which we lived over the past months.

Dare we hope that this is a new beginning? Time will tell.

The above article is due to be published in German in the forthcoming issue of  Friedensforum (“Peace Forum”),  a magazine of the German peace movement. Christine Schweitzer of Friedensforum  gracipusly gave consent for me to freely spread the English-language text.

FRIEDENSForum Zeitschrift des Netzwerk Friedenskooperative, 53111 Bonn, Tel. 0228-69 29 04, Fax 0228-69 29 06 Absenderin: Dr. Christine Schweitzer, Tel 040-655 90 940 (privat)

310 Israelis support South Africa's lawsuit against Israel

310 Israelis support South Africa's lawsuit against Israel at the International Court in the Hague

310 Israeli citizens (as of Sunday evening) signed a petition addressed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, expressing their support for the lawsuit filed by South Africa against the State of Israel. The petition read:

We, Israeli citizens, write to express our support for South Africa’s proceedings before the ICJ claiming that Israel’s conduct in Gaza violates its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The materials that emerge from South Africa’s application are horrific and credible. Israel is taking systematic steps to wipe out the population of Gaza, to starve them, to abuse them and to displace them. It implements a policy of erasing life possibilities, and Tsher leads to genocide. It systematically kills large sections of the population, leading academics, writers, doctors, medical staff, journalists and ordinary citizens.

We join the double concern expressed in the proceedings that Israel violates its obligations by committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, and by failing to prevent the genocide, including by failing to hold senior Israeli officials and others accountable for their direct and public incitement to genocide. We also join the applicants requesting a series of “provisional measures,” including that Israel immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza.

Initiators of the opetition include social worker Lior Kay, as well as Dr. Anat Matar and peace activist Yonathan Pollak. Lior Kay says: "Shortly after launching the petition we already got hundreds of signatures, and more keep coming in. We know that in the public mood prevailing nowadays in Israel, our initiative may provoke anger and outrage and we may face oppressive measures by the authorities, as was done against many Israeli citizens who expressed opposition to the war or even simple compassion for the many dead of Gaza. Still, we are bound to take this conscientious step, in face of the atrocities perpetrated every day and even every hour by our country.

As noted also in South Africa's suit, the horrors perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 offer no justification whatsoever for the complete destruction of the Gaza Strip, the killing of 22,000 people including thousands of children, and the expulsion two million people from their homes to live under the open sky in terrible conditions of hunger and rampant disease."

Contact: Dr. Anat Matar: +972-52-8560001

Mourning the dead, calling for ceasefire and an end to the cycle of violence

Israelis gather in Jerusalem, in Independence Park outside of the US Embassy, to mourn those killed in Gaza and to call for a ceasefire and an end to the cycle of violence.


December 22, 2023


Oriel Eisner: +972 58-789-5478,

Sahar Vardi: +972 54-568-3419,

Jerusalem: This morning (Dec 22nd), around 100 Israelis gathered outside of the US Embassy in Jerusalem to mourn those killed in Gaza and to call for an immediate ceasefire. The vigil included a recorded message from a Palestinian who fled Gaza, written memorials about those who have been killed, poetry, music by a Gazan who was killed, and more.

“The death toll will only continue to rise if no action is taken. From our devastation for those already killed, we demand that this war end.” Maya Rosen, a participant in the vigil.

The vigil comes at a time when Israel is severely repressing and punishing any recognition of the suffering in Gaza or of the Palestinians who have been killed since October 7th. This most directly impacts Palestinians who have sought to mourn their family or friends, or who generally dared to speak out about the atrocities committed in Gaza. Many Palestinians across Israel have been arrested, threatened, and forced out of work for social media posts or statements. Israeli Jews have also faced repression in this crackdown.

“In the current environment, there is no space to speak to the suffering, loss, and deprivation experienced in Gaza since October 7th, and the nearly 20,000 people, the majority of whom are women and children, who have lost their lives,” said Itamar Israeli, another participant in the vigil.

Those gathered came to express their pain about all victims who have perished in this war -- Palestinians and Israelis -- and to demand an immediate ceasefire, at the doorstep of the US Embassy and down the street from Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence.

In coordination with the vigil in Jerusalem, some 25 parallel vigils are planned across the world this weekend, including in New York, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Toronto, London, and Zurich.

Statements from attendees:

Erez Bleicher, from the vigil’s opening statement: “We are here to publicly grieve the 20,000 Palestinians lost in the Gaza Strip, to personally mourn our friends killed in the airstrikes, to bring their living memories and the fact of their death to the doors of those responsible, and demand a permanent ceasefire now. Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu we are standing in direct sight of the US embassy in Jerusalem and meters from the Prime Ministers’ house because we hold you and your governments directly responsible for the 20,000 Palestinians killed and the ongoing mass expulsion of Gazan. We are here determined to publicly honor their memory and in the hope that this memorial can be even a fragile shelter for the many thousands of Gazans who have been lost. We demand the right to publicly mourn them as we simultaneously grieve Israeli members of our communities killed on October 7th. We will not allow our profound grief for the 1200 Israelis who have been killed to justify more death. We know that the only way to end this collective anguish is to build a future of mutual prosperity beyond occupation, closure, airstrikes, ground invasions, and massacre.”

Abigail Szor: “There are no winners in war. I am here today because there are names, faces, and stories to those killed in Gaza. I have friends there who have lost many relatives in this horrible and painful war. My good friend lost her mother, and I am speaking here, because she cannot speak, because her words would endanger her life. The idea and the policy according to which it’s possible to determine the fate of an entire people, to seek revenge, to kill and be killed and through this bring victory is flawed and mistaken. The choice stands before us whether to continue to sacrifice many lives and to bring more death and loss or to agree to a political solution which is the only way we can ensure true and stable justice, security, and calm. Beyond political faith, what guides me, perhaps more than ever, is my friendship with my friend from Gaza. This alone is sufficient to unequivocally make clear to me that this reality need not be our destiny. This war is terrible and will not bring about a solution or victory for anyone. My only hope is that it ends immediately. We have to imagine and create a better reality in the memory of those who are no longer with us and for those who are still alive.”

Yossef Mekyton: “Khalil Abu Yahia, my dear friend, a determined optimist and one of the most decent people I have ever known, was murdered, along with his entire family, in southern Gaza by an Israeli bo