We have seen the devastating images coming out of Gaza over the last weeks – the death toll rising dramatically each day, thousands of missiles strike, the cutting off of crucial communication lines and essential aid, and now the alarming demolition of Palestinian neighbourhoods. We call for an immediate ceasefire, which is crucial to the protection of human lives, and the security of Palestinian people. It is also crucial to the safety of the remaining Israeli hostages.
Images of bulldozers razing Gazan communities to the ground is a visceral reminder of the forced removals undertaken by South Africa’s apartheid regime against communities of colour. These operations sought to remove “black spots” – communities of people of colour too close to ‘white areas’. The same logic seems to be being applied by Israel – to remove the Gazan people wholesale.
Writing in the Guardian in 2002, after one of his journey’s to the Holy Land, Archbishop Desmond Tutu noted, “Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured.”
21 years later we continue to witness the continuous and intensified terrorizing of innocent people by the Israel Defense Forces. As the assault continues and in the midst of the violence being waged against Gazans, illegal settlers in the West Bank have ramped up their violence. As the West continues to support Israel without any caveats, they are spurring on illegal actions and violence at an alarming scale.
This is a critical moment that demands our immediate attention as a global community. We not only grieve the loss of innocent civilians, but we also mourn the heart-wrenching tragedy of countless Palestinian children whose lives have been ruthlessly and abruptly taken.
Just as the world came together to condemn apartheid in South Africa, so we should continue to raise our collective voices against apartheid faced by Palestinians. We learned in South Africa that there is no route to peaceful coexistence through violence, securitization, harassment, and exerting control over the daily lives of people. The only route to peace is through ending the violence, engaging with each other, and committing to a fundamental set of principles that value every human life.
Issued by The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation