Statement on the attack on Palestinian civilians2023/10/22
Call to stop the attack on Palestinian civilians, to resolve conflict through dialogue, and to end the occupation
We condemn Hamas attacks targeting civilians, including killings, sexual violence, and kidnappings, and call for the immediate release of hostages. Perpetrators of serious crimes against humanity must be held accountable under international law.
However, these events cannot be understood outside of the context of Israel’s long-standing occupation and blockade, and the various human rights violations committed against Palestinian citizens. Moreover, we strongly condemn Israel’s indiscriminate retaliatory attacks on the Palestinian people as a whole, and call for a halt to invasion preparations that will only lead to further casualties.
Under the conditions in which the entire Gaza Strip is effectively a prison without the possibility of escape, emphasizing “humanitarian considerations” like evacuation orders and emergency aid for civilians must not be used as an excuse to make collective punishment for violations of international law seem more civilized. Of course humanitarian aid is necessary, but efforts must first be focused on preventing a ground invasion of Gaza and on establishing an immediate ceasefire.
We also express here our deep concern about reporting and discourse that ignores the context of the long history of occupation and blockade, and reinforces racial and religious stereotypes. We emphasize that discrimination and harassment based on such prejudices are not to be tolerated. Feminist concerns about gender and sexuality-based violence in conflict should not be used in a way that hides or legitimizes other forms of violence.
Prolonged occupation and conflict have contributed to the development of strains of religious fundamentalism and nationalism that is sexist and oppressive of minorities in both Palestinian and Israeli societies. We need to listen to the voices of those courageous people who have long sought dialogic and non-violent solutions under such difficult circumstances in order to achieve long-term conflict resolution based on human rights and justice.
We urge the Japanese government and the international community, beginning with the United States, to condemn in clear terms Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people. We call on all diplomatic efforts to immediately prevent any further escalation of violence rather than to make a massacre more “humane,” and in the long-term to promote and support a negotiated peace to end the occupation.
Asia-Japan Woen’s Resource Center
October 21, 2023