We here in Israel/Palestine breathed a sigh of relief on Friday morning when the Israel-Hamas ceasefire entered into force, ending the latest round of violence. This short escalation took a heavy toll, resulting in some 300 deaths and causing yet another humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Entire streets have been destroyed, thousands have lost their homes, medical supplies and electricity are at an all-time low. It’s been a difficult period in Israel too, and I am glad Israelis can close up their bomb shelters for the time being.
But the end of active hostilities, though welcome, does not necessarily bring hope for a better future. Just down the road from our office, Palestinian families still face eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, due to Israel’s support for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from this and other neighbourhoods around Jerusalem.
And throughout the West Bank, the day-to-day reality of occupation continues. It does not capture headlines like the rockets fired at Tel Aviv or the destruction of 13-story buildings in Gaza, but it is a stifling, oppressive and sometimes fatal reality for millions of Palestinians.
It’s easy to lose hope in such difficult times, but we at HaMoked are committed to providing tangible assistance to those who need our help. We can help the mother whose son was arrested find out where Israel has taken him. We can help her visit him in prison. We can shine a light on the Israeli security forces’ violent treatment of Palestinians during arrest and detention, and demand that they be held to account. We can help reunite families separated between Gaza and the West Bank. We can help the injured travel to receive medical care.
It’s not enough. We must hold fast to a vision of the future where Palestinians are free from occupation and can fully enjoy their rights. But in the meanwhile, people are suffering, and HaMoked has the tools to assist them. So we will continue to provide this assistance, demanding that Israel respect its legal obligations to uphold the rights of the Palestinian population living under its control.
Hoping for better days soon,
Executive Director of HaMoked