South African Jews call for ceasefire in Gaza

Jews in South Africa demand a truce in Gaza.

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More than 500 South African Jews have signed an open letter urging an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Palestine.

We are a diverse group of South African Jews who find Israel and Palestine’s current state to be appalling. The world has seen a catastrophic loss of life and, in fact, humanity through it. The signatories write,” We lament every life lost, Israeli and Palestinian.”

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Additionally, the letter demanded” the release of all hostages and detainees unjustly held in Gaza and Israeli prisons” as well as an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The process had taken a while, according to Anthony Hodgson, who assisted with the letter’s draft. They put on a meeting, invited members of the “local Jewish community” who hold “different views and positions,” wrote several drafts, got feedback on them, and tried to incorporate as much of it as they could.

” The people who signed this have very different ideas about a long-term solution.” The communication we’ve had makes it abundantly clear that people have very different motivations for endorsing or signing, according to Hodgson.

The need for a ceasefire has been emphasized by the widespread call for Palestine solidarity, he said.

Veteran journalist Anton Harber is one of the letter’s signatories. We need to reaffirm our shared humanity and the understanding that Judaism values life above all else in the midst of the hate-filled clamor from extremists on both sides, so I signed this letter. The voices of peace that the extremists are drowning out need to be strengthened. The warmongers must be pushed back. I signed because of this, he wrote.

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The call for a ceasefire and the cause of the Palestinian people must be saluted, according to Lisa Seftel, another signatory, who wrote: In light of growing polarization and the conflict between Zionism and Judaism, it is crucial that South African Jews unite behind this call, as this statement does. The tragic events that have occurred since October 7 have once more shown that this world’s future is indivisible, that everyone is affected, and that we should make every effort to push for peace.

Members of South Africa’s Jewish community have written open letters similar to this one in 2021 in response to previous conflicts in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

A letter denouncing the attacks on civilians during the conflict has also been signed by nearly 300 Stellenbosch University members, many of whom are senior academics. We call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as part of the Stellenbosch University community, along with countless other organizations, NGOs, institutions, and governments, they wrote.

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thousands of soldiers killed in battle

Since 1967, Israel has been in charge of the West Bank and Gaza, two Occupied Palestinian Territories. More than 600 Israelis and 6 400 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between 2008 and October 6 ( source: OCHA ). Prior to the current conflict, Israeli military operations in Gaza in 2008 and 2014 were responsible for the majority of Palestinian casualties. ( Refer to this Al Jazeera timeline. )

According to the OCHA, 237 Palestinians and 30 Israelis were killed between the beginning of 2023 and October 6th.

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According to the Israeli government, Hamas militants entered Israel on October 7, 2023, and killed about 1200 people, mostly civilians and people from a variety of nationalities, including Israeli-born Palestinians. This operation has been dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood by Hamas. Operation Swords of Iron, a military bombardment and subsequent ground assault on Gaza, was Israel’s response.

More than 11 000 people had died in Gaza as of Sunday night, including more than 4 500 children and 3 000 women. The Gaza health ministry claims as much. However, the ministry claimed that due to communications blackouts in the area, it was having” significant difficulties” compiling the data and that an additional 3 000 people were either missing or hiding under the rubble of fighting-related buildings, according to the Financial Times.

According to The Financial Times, there were more than 100 bodies starting to decompose and” the smell of corpses” everywhere. The ministry also claimed that al-Shifa’hospital complex was” under a complete siege” on Monday. There was no food or fresh water, despite the fact that 8 000 displaced people were taking refuge at al-Shifa.

Israel and Palestinian armed groups have been charged with “war crimes during the current hostilities” by Human Rights Watch. According to the organization,” On October 7, 2023, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups took more than 200 hostages and purposefully killed hundreds of civilians in Israel.” Israel then severely reduced life-saving humanitarian aid and cut off the population of Gaza’s access to electricity, fuel, food, and water, all of which are acts of collective punishment.

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Additionally, Human Rights Watch has urged nations that provide weapons to Israeli and Palestinian militias to stop doing so lest they be implicated in war crimes.

hostages and detainees

The way the Israeli justice system treats Palestinians is too complicated to go into here. Israeli prisons are housing thousands of Palestinians who are being tried by military courts. Additionally, Israel had more than 1200 Palestinian administrative detainees as of October 6. They are not subject to a trial or any other charges under Israeli law; for more information, see the article by Al Jazeera.

Over 200 Israelis, mostly civilians and a few foreigners, were kidnapped during the Hamas attack on October 7 and are currently being held hostage in the Gaza Strip. In exchange for the hostages, Hamas has demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Since then, Israel has detained a large number of Palestinians, bringing the total number imprisoned in Israel to over 10,000, according to Palestinian officials.

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Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp image

Words: Nathan Geffen/GroundUp and Liezl Human

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