As fierce armed confrontation between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas continue to intensify since October 7 when Hamas militants stormed beyond the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby towns of Israel, the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a regional peacebuilding institution based in the Philippines and the Global Partnership to Prevent Armed Conflict – South East Asia (GPPAC-SEA), a civil society-led global network of peace advocates, today call for an immediate ceasefire and on the United Nations and all its member-states and fellow civil society organizations to help de-escalate the Israel-Palestine tensions that has now resulted into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.

Latest media reports reveal that the on-going Israeli-Hamas war has now left 1,200 Israelis dead, with more than 2,700 injured, while 950 people in Gaza have been killed, with 5,000 injured. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of people displaced across Gaza has now reached 263,000, a steep increase of 40 percent since Israel’s IDF launched massive retaliatory airstrikes.

IID and GPPAC-SEA would like to remind Israel and Hamas that disproportionate use of weapons targeting civilian infrastructure and killing of civilians and abducting civilians as hostages are forbidden under international laws. The killing of civilians is barbaric and unacceptable–be they Israeli or Palestinian citizens.

Along with this, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages reportedly taken by Hamas, and the halt of indiscriminate air strikes of Gaza by Israel including civilian homes and facilities. And of wanton rocket fire from Gaza into Israel that have killed hundreds of civilians.

Israel’s decision to cut water, electricity and food supply in Gaza is utterly deplorable as this will contribute to compounding the already dire human rights and humanitarian condition of innocent civilians. Worse, denial of access to these fundamental needs for the people struggling to survive under difficult circumstances even before this latest war can constitute a war crime. We urge the UN and other humanitarian agencies to immediately install a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to facilitate safe delivery of fundamental humanitarian needs to civilians trapped in the conflict.

In the wake of this continuing crisis between Israel and Palestine, IID and GPPAC-SEA call for an immediate end and peaceful resolution of the conflict. The use of violence as a solution to another violence will never result in anything significant for both sides.

For us, the road to end the violence in Gaza and achieve sustainable peace should start with a negotiated political dialogue designed to address the underlying root causes of the conflict and recurrent tensions.

Seeking a peaceful resolution to this conflict should mean recognizing the inherent right of the Palestinian people to live and govern themselves in their own land which has been occupied by Israel for decades since after the last World War. With that, we call on Israel to dismantle systematic measures including laws and policies that simply promote segregation, discrimination and deprivation currently being imposed against the will of the Palestinian population.

Today, we call on all UN member-states, humanitarian groups, peacebuilders, human rights defenders and the broad civil society movements around the world to stand in solidarity and call for an end to violence and the siege of Gaza and immediate resolution to the lingering Israel-Palestine conflict. ###