Peace Boat and Peace Boat US are horrified and distressed at the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and the unprecedented loss of life.
We condemn without reservation the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, and our hearts are with those in Israel and around the world who are mourning loved ones. We are horrified at the seizing of hostages, and we demand their immediate release.
At the same time, we stand with the people of Gaza who are facing days and nights of unrelenting bombing by one of the world’s largest military forces. Bombs are falling on schools, hospitals and residential buildings in the most densely populated area on earth. The people of Gaza, who have already endured 16 years of blockade, are now being denied water, food, fuel and power in an act of collective punishment. Hospitals are at breaking point.
The immediate priority is to end the killing, with an immediate and unconditional ceasefire on both sides; the unconditional release of the hostages taken into Gaza; and full access allowed to Gaza for humanitarian agencies.
We have long been committed to working with local partners for dialogue. Peace Boat has visited the Israeli ports of Ashdod and Haifa numerous times with our ship, and held study tours and homestay programs in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. In more hopeful times, Peace Boat was proud to host numerous grassroots dialogues for Israeli and Palestinian youth onboard. Through our continued work with our partners in the region and our participation in the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) network, we are committed to supporting a non-violent and just resolution to the region’s conflict that recognizes the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, security and freedom.
These experiences inform our conviction that the international community must recognize that the root cause of this violence is the long-standing and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people and the failure by the world to implement a just resolution to the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict. The international community has turned its back on the Palestinian people, allowing Israel to continue its illegal expansion of settlements into Palestinian land with impunity and subject the people of Gaza to intolerable humanitarian conditions.
There will be no lasting peace and security for the peoples of Israel and Palestine without an end to the occupation, and a solution for Israel and Palestine that respects the rights of both peoples to security, freedom and self-determination. The international community must facilitate an urgent and creative return to dialogue, for the sake of all the region’s peoples.