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A call for ceasefire

In war, there are no real victors; there are only victims who have either lost their lives or who will continue to live with the trauma.

The war between Israel and Hamas must stop now. Too many innocent lives have already been lost. Thousands of civilians from both territories, as well as foreign nationals including at least four Filipinos, are among the fatalities. 

We are not in the position to judge the motivations of the two parties in engaging in this war. But we are in the position to fight for the rights of those people who did not want this war in the first place. It is our collective responsibility as members of a community of nations to call for a ceasefire and for respect for human life.

As both parties carry out their attacks, the consequences become more unbearable each day. The utter disregard for international humanitarian law is unbelievable. It is simply unacceptable to use civilians as human shields or to impede critical lifeline — hospitals, health facilities, and ambulances are being attacked, and delivery of essential medical supplies, food, water, and fuel are being restricted.

Respect for international humanitarian law

It is already disheartening that many innocent people, including children, are caught between the warring parties. What’s even demoralizing is the fact that those who are providing assistance to affected civilians are also in great danger.

At least 59 members of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have already been killed in the hostilities. The UNRWA is the UN agency that provides humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

We should not allow this to continue. International humanitarian law must be respected. Though at war, both Israel and Hamas forces must ensure the safety and well-being of the civilian population.

The Geneva Conventions — particularly the four original conventions that have been ratified by all UN member states, including the State of Palestine as a UN observer — have been agreed upon to ensure the protection of individuals, such as civilians, medics and aid workers, who do not take part in the fighting, as well as those who can no longer fight, such as wounded and sick combatants, and prisoners of war.

Both sides must realize that there is no value in this battle if they cannot preserve the lives of their respective peoples as well as those who help their citizens in both times of war and peace. 

War is a tragedy for all

In the end, the consequences of this war will be devastating for all.

A few years ago, here in our own country, the siege of Marawi City led by the ISIS-linked Maute Group, left a trail of death and destruction. What was once a lively and culturally vibrant city was turned into complete ruins after five months of battle. There was massive displacement of communities and loss of livelihoods and income. There was severe food shortage. Farmers, fishermen had no access to roads for several months. There were no classes in school and businesses were closed.

The irony of war is that, the ones who suffer the consequences are those who did not cause the fighting, those who did not want war in the first place.

Once an innocent life is lost, it is time for war to cease. We should all call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and urge the opening of humanitarian corridors. We must put an end to this tragedy now.

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