eople attend the March for Palestine protest in London, U.K. May 15, 2021. Image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

To government leaders and people around the world,

This week must serve as a breaking point in the cycle of war and oppression that has killed innocent children and scarred our collective conscience. It is a test of the global human conscience.

The scenes of devastation and the sounds of destruction engulfing Palestine are not unfamiliar to me. I experienced my own, very public tragedy in Gaza in 2009. The loss and suffering are immeasurable. I know suffering transcends the divide. Still, I believe what I faced and what I witnessed are incomparable to what Palestinians are facing today.

In light of the Israeli’s unsanctioned evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and the ongoing onslaught on Gaza, the number of Palestinian children killed grows by the hour. Families are annihilated and buried under rubble.

This comes towards the end of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid celebrations. While Palestinian children prepared for this celebration with their new clothes and promises of toys and family gatherings, they were met with force: thousands of air strikes, bombs dropped on the Gaza Strip, along with grenades and rubber bullets. The northern part of Gaza has become almost unrecognizable and uninhabitable, leaving families homeless and mourning.

The media coverage has prompted many world leaders to recite the same talking points about troubling scenes of suffering, Israel’s right to defend itself, and the importance of finding a peaceful solution. Respectfully, these statements have the hollow familiarity of “thoughts and prayers.”

This is the 73rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba — the mass displacement of a people — and still Palestinians are experiencing cumulative and successive Nakbas in the form of illegal settlements violently enforced, cultural genocide, and war crimes against humanity. The Palestinian struggle for freedom and peace is an international dilemma that requires, if not demands, everyone’s attention, especially those in the position to make a difference.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights affirms the Palestinians’ right to live in their home country undisturbed by ruthless and relentless aggression. They have the right to practice their faith, maintain their homes, and live without fear. 

Yet what is happening right now in Palestine is not only a test of political will — and international law — but of our shared humanity. We can no longer accept silence in the face of atrocities against unarmed civilians. I am joined by many citizens of the world asking political leaders to speak with clarity and conviction. Truth is the path to liberty. It is time to end the bloodshed; it is time to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 

Eradication of war and violence by ending the occupation where the language of equality, respect of international law and human rights, and justice prevail.

Specifically, we call on world leaders to immediately intervene to stop the atrocities against Palestinians, the occupation of the Palestinian land, and ethnic cleansing of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Jerusalem and enforce accountability in international law. 

In the goal of peace, I beseech you to act.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian physician and an internationally recognized human rights and peace activist.

Image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash