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Hundreds of people recently joined Jewish groups in eight cities throughout the US to call for a ceasefire in Israel’s attacks against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrations occurred as the United Nations also demanded a pause to the fighting, reported Reuters.
These moves were emblematic of the sentiment worldwide, even in Israel and among those abroad who normally would staunchly support Israel, that Israeli leaders needed to start thinking about their endgame in Gaza, and what comes after.
Since Hamas, which is in charge of Gaza, attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 hostages, Palestinian authorities say that Israeli attacks have killed almost 20,000 in the tiny, densely populated territory abutting southern Israel, the Egyptian border and the Mediterranean Sea, CBS News reported.
In the days after Hamas’ attack, moderate and left-wing Israelis who want better relations with the Palestinians remained quiet as the horror of Hamas’ terror became clear, wrote Time magazine. The son of Canadian-Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver, whom Hamas murdered on Oct. 7, even described his country’s peace movement as “orphaned” in the wake of the horror, added the Washington Post.
Many peace activists expressed anger that right-wing political parties who support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were foolish enough to think Hamas could act responsibly, the Times of Israel reported, alluding to how Netanyahu had allowed Hamas to control the Gaza Strip in exchange for what seemed like peace and quiet in recent years. Other activists were shocked that Hamas could massacre Israelis in cold blood after this temporary peace reigned between the two countries.
Now, as the destruction in Gaza continues in the months following the Oct. 7 attack, the Israeli peace movement is beginning to coalesce again. Some movement leaders, for example, are strengthening their ties with Palestinian women, knowing these links might help sow peace more firmly in the future.
“Both of us feel the sorrow of the other, because we are on the same side,” Yael Braudo-Bahat, an attorney and co-director of Women Wage Peace, told the BBC in an interview. “We are mothers. We are women. We want a better future for everyone here in this region.”
Many of these Israeli human rights activists believe Israel had a right to defend itself – but said that Israeli forces were acting indiscriminately in the Gaza Strip. Some who spoke to CNN asked to be only identified with pseudonyms, however, because they feared retribution from Israeli officials and others who have been intolerant of anti-war rhetoric.
But as they maintain, it has to end sooner or later. And they want to determine what comes after.