Below is the letter that I sent to my elected representatives, Representative Bill Huizenga, Senator Gary Peters, and Senator Debbie Stabenow.
I am writing to you today asking that you demand for an immediate ceasefire for the conflict occurring in Gaza. Even without reflecting on the long history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, everything that has happened since the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas signals the need for an immediate ceasefire.
The response of almost every politician is to say that Israel has a right to self-defense, and we see political pundits ask over and over, “what could Israel do that would be considered a proportional response?”
Of course Israel has a right to self-defense, and few people disagree with this. However, what we are seeing goes beyond self-defense and beyond a proportional response. As of this writing, casualties in Gaza have exceeded 7,000, while casualties in Israel are around 1,400, with the majority occurring during the initial attack over three weeks ago. More than 62% of Palestinian casualties has been women and children. With the civilian casualties in Gaza now over three times the amount of the casualties in Israel, it is time for the conflict to end.
What Hamas did was a terrorist attack and should rightfully be condemned. Israel is justified in going after Hamas fighters. However, what we are seeing is blatant war crimes being committed by Israel. Israel has made it clear that their strategy is collective punishment of the Gazan people in response to the actions of Hamas fighters. Collective punishment is a war crime and is a violation of international law.
We cannot overlook the power dynamics between Israel and Gaza. Israel has the ability to shut off access to water, fuel, and electricity to Gaza, as well as block most ways out of Gaza. Israel also has the defense of the Iron Dome, which has been incredibly effective at protecting the country and its civilians. Israel has 520,000 active duty and reserve service members. Hamas has an estimated 40,000 fighters.
Palestinians have been called “human animals”, Israeli officials have said that “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy”. Prime minister Netanyahhu says that he wants to “flatten” Gaza, a city of 2.2 million people, half of which are under the age of 19. As it stands, 42% of Gaza’s housing has been destroyed by Israeli bombing and 1.4 million Gazans have been displaced. It is time for this conflict to end.
If you refuse to call for a ceasefire, I demand an answer as to why. Palestinian civilians are being killed disproportionally. Israel, partially due to US funding, is more than capable of protecting itself without killing swaths of civilians. There is no reason to allow this to continue. You must justify your tolerance for continued civilian deaths if you refuse to call for an end to this conflict.