On Saturday 7th October, Hamas militants launched a surprise attack, crossing from Gaza into Israel, attacking civilians, and taking hostages. Israel responded by pummeling Gaza, striking the small, densely packed area from sea and air.
Since then, the world has watched on with horror, witnessing an unbearable toll on innocent lives, and a violation of human rights.
Act for Peace joins the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The situation continues to escalate, with 1.4 of Gaza’s 2.2 million people now being displaced.
Act for Peace has worked with churches in Palestine and Israel for over three decades and continues to stand in solidarity with our partners during these heart-breaking times.
At time of writing, the Ministry of Health in Gaza places the number of fatalities in Gaza at 4,651 of which, 62 per cent are women and children. More than 1,000 Palestinians have been reported missing and are presumed to be trapped or dead under the rubble. These figures are additional to the 1,400 lives lost in Israel in the attacks two weeks ago. This tragic loss of life has ripped apart families and we pray for those affected.
At least 42% of housing in the Gaza Strip has been destroyed or is uninhabitable, and there are an estimated one million people who have been forcibly displaced, internally.
After 15 straight days of bombing, basic water, sanitation, healthcare, and services have all been decimated. Israel has cut off all food, water, fuel and electricity, jeopardising the survival of 2.2 million people in the Gaza strip.
Our hearts ache for the civilians hurt on both sides of this conflict. Act for Peace is a humanitarian organisation, and we recognise there is currently a severe and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza where we and our partner Near East Council of Churches can help alleviate suffering and the loss of more innocent lives.
In times of crisis, it is essential that we continue to make considered decisions that do not endanger more lives than are already at risk.
There are things that we can and must do to ensure actions we take are not placing people at increased risk of danger, ensuring that we facilitate humanitarian needs and assistance.
We have put together this guide to share just a few ways you can support those impacted by the horrifying crisis unfolding in Gaza.
1. Choose your media wisely and be mindful of what you share
News: Actively seek out articles written by Israelis and Palestinians. We recommend subscribing to the joint Israeli-Palestinian online news outlet 972+ Magazine, or for televised / international coverage, the BBC or The Guardian, which has journalists in both Israel and Palestine. If you want to check the facts, go to the OCHA website, BBC Q&A or to BBC Fact Check.
Social Media: Human Rights Watch and others have reported on the circulation of several unverifiable posts trending on social media. Please be mindful of what you share. Due to Israel’s cutting off of electricity and the prohibition of international journalists entering Gaza, it is becoming ever more challenging for Gazans to get their story heard. Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations are doing their best to report under unthinkable conditions. Some organisations have been accused of terrorist affiliations, please do your research before you consume or share any media. For a full list of Human Rights Organisations to follow on social media click here.
Other media: The Oscar-nominated Palestinian short film The Present on Netflix is a moving introduction to the everyday humiliations Palestinians face living under occupation.
2. Understand the context
This major escalation did not happen overnight. Here are some resources to help you understand the context and the events that led to this point.
a) The history of Israel and Palestine: This 6-minute video from Jewish Voice for Peace offers a simple and succinct historical background.
b) Life in Gaza: Gaza has often been described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ as Israel has maintained an air, sea and land blockade since 2007. 80 per cent of its population rely on foreign aid survive and 97 per cent of the water is undrinkable. This virtual tour by Israeli-Palestinian tour group, Green Olive Collective, takes you around Gaza and introduces the political and humanitarian realities.
3. Donate to Act for Peace
The best way to support people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is to donate money to a reputable organisation with an established presence in the area.
Act for Peace is a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Australia.
Act for Peace is an independent and neutral aid organisation, and we condemn all attacks, violence and targeting of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. Attacks that deliberately target civilians are never justifiable. All parties must respect international law and cease their attacks. To stem the rising death toll, we are calling for an immediate ceasefire, the removal of all restrictions on humanitarian aid entering Gaza, and for Israel to reverse its decision to cut off all food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine entering Gaza.
We have supported our partner in Gaza, TheNear East Council of Churches, NECC) for more than 15 years. NECC runs three health clinics in Gaza providing medical care now more vital than ever. Both Act for Peace, and NECC, are members of the ACT Alliance which has strong standards for quality and accountability of all members.
Please donate to Act for Peace here.
4. Write to your elected reps
Act for Peace has recently shared a joint statement in collaboration with 74 civil society organisations in Australia — headed by Amnesty International — to call on the Australian Government to act on the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. You can share that post here.
You can use this website to find the contact details of your local senators and members. You will be able to either write a letter or email to ask them to call for an immediate ceasefire. Or this site to find out who your elected representative is so that you can contact them.
5. Show public solidarity
Historically, the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel has resulted in an upsurge of antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks around the world, and it is distressing to see some reports of such incidents already. Please call out hateful and oppressive speech when you encounter it and, where you can, extend care and support for your Muslim and Jewish neighbours.
In addition, if you would like to support by attending a rally in your community, the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network lists relevant events you can attend.
This is just the start of the process, and we will continue to update details as they progress. If you’d like to know more, you can sign up to our newsletter on the footer of our homepage here. Or follow us on LinkedIn to be part of the conversation.