Bob Marley sang,
“Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
This is what I wish I could say to the people where war is ranging. Where they’re caught up in a crossfire. Where innocent civilians are being displaced, separated from their families, hurt, traumatised, or worse still, dying.
This brings me to Israel and Gaza. I cannot remain silent on what’s happening in that region any longer, given my deep concern for the humanitarian crisis unfolding there. I’m compelled to use my voice.
Let me be clear. Hamas conducted heinous crimes in Israel on October 7, 2023. What happened was an act of terror and my heart goes out to the families of those who were killed and abducted. I cannot imagine the pain and anguish the families must be experiencing in the wake of such a devastating event. My thoughts and prayers have been with them since that dreadful day, and my deepest condolences go out to them during this unimaginably difficult time. I hope they find strength in each other, that the Israeli hostages are released unharmed as soon as possible, and that the loved ones who were taken too soon rest in eternal peace.
In times like these, with allegations and investigations into war crimes and violations of international law, it’s crucial that we come together as a global community of safety to condemn violence and work towards a future where every life is valued and cherished.
Gaza is home to approximately 2 million people, half of whom are children who have endured a blockade by Israel for nearly two decades. It has some of the highest unemployment rates in the world, with rates being significantly higher for women. For example, in the third quarter of 2022, the Gaza unemployment rate was reported at 46.6%. The rate was significantly higher among women, reaching 72.2% during the same period.
Now, the deliberate bombing of a trapped population in Gaza, who have nowhere to flee, is an atrocity that cannot be ignored. According to multiple sources, including CNN, Al Jazeera, AP News, and NPR, to date, more than 10,000 people, have been killed in Gaza due to the recent conflict with around 40% of them being children.
Before the recent war in Gaza started, around 100 trucks daily were providing humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza. The aid included essential supplies such as food, fuel, water, and medicine. This aid was crucial for the population of Gaza, as the blockade severely impacted the region’s economy and access to basic necessities. The denial of aid for the people of Gaza up to October 21, 2023 was nothing short of appalling, and I’m comforted to know that more trucks of aid are getting through now although fighting is still making deliveries difficult.
I fear that the people of Gaza – Palestinan civilians including children, women, and families, are being collectively punished and dehumanised. I find it deeply disturbing that the world is watching this horror unfold, and how many world leaders actively supported the ongoing violence by refusing to demand a humanitarian ceasefire and blocking the UN Security Council from imposing one on both parties.
I understand it’s incredibly complex, but we urgently need a ceasefire. Thankfully, yesterday Israel agreed to suspend fighting for four hours on a daily basis to allow for the people of Gaza to flee from the north. That’s progress but we also need to explore alternative paths towards peace.
Both parties involved in this conflict may have committed war crimes, and it’s imperative that justice is served. António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, has been calling for a ceasefire since October 19, as Gaza becomes a “graveland for innocent children.” He said that in the past month alone, more journalists have been killed than in any other conflict over the past three decades, and that the UN has sadly witnessed the highest number of aid worker casualties in its history.
We cannot stand by silently while this humanitarian crisis escalates. It’s our moral duty to demand an end to the violence, to protect innocent lives, and to work tirelessly towards a just and lasting peace.
Wars breed wars. Cycles of hate and vengence.
So, if like me you’ve been wondering what you can do to show support for a ceasefire in Gaza, I’ve got 7 suggestions.
7 Actions for Peace
#1.Join peaceful protests: Participate in peaceful protests or demonstrations advocating for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. These gatherings are not hate marches as some people or polititians (like the UK’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman) would have you beleive. Rather they help raise awareness and put pressure on governments and international bodies to take action.
#2. Contact politicians: Reach out to political representatives, government officials urging them to support a ceasefire and take diplomatic actions to promote peace in the region. This can be done through emails, phone calls, or letters.
#3. Sign petitions: Sign online petitions calling for an immediate ceasefire and supporting efforts to protect civilian lives in Gaza. Many organisations and advocacy groups provide platforms to express solidarity and demand action. Here is Amnesty International’s.
#4. Donate to humanitarian organisations: Contribute to reputable humanitarian organisations providing aid and assistance to those affected by the conflict in Gaza. Donations can help provide essential supplies like food, water, medical aid, and shelter to those in need. For example,
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF),
- Save the Children – West Bank and Gaza,
- Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF),
- The United Nations Relief and Workers Agency (UNRA),
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
- United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP),
- Women for Women International.
The one I’m donating to is the UN Women as they’ve set up an emergency fund which supports UN Women’s projects for the benefit of women, girls and their families in the Gaza crisis.
#5. Raise awareness on social media: Use social media platforms to share information, news, and personal stories about the situation in Gaza. Amplify voices advocating for peace and justice, use relevant hashtags, and encourage others to join the conversation. Warning, be prepared for harassment as well as support.
#6. Educate yourself and others: Learn about the history, context, and complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Share accurate information with others to dispel misinformation and promote understanding.
#7. Pray for peace. God is a personal affair, but no matter your faith, please pray for the well-being and safety of those affected by the conflict. Pray for an end to hostilities, for the de-escalation of the conflict, and for the hearts of all involved to be touched by compassion and understanding. Alternatively or additionally, join collective prayer gatherings or vigils dedicated to praying for peace in Gaza, offering their support and solidarity with those affected.
I’m a spiritual person and I’m including two of my favourite prayers for such a time as now.
The first is by St Francis of Assisi, an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He lived from 1181 or 1182 to October 3, 1226. Francis is known for his deep devotion to God, his love for nature and animals, and his commitment to a life of poverty and simplicity. He founded the Franciscan Order, which emphasized humility, service, and compassion.
The second is by Shantideva, n 8th-century Indian Buddhist monk, philosopher, and scholar. He is best known for his influential work called “Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra,” which translates to “The Way of the Bodhisattva” or “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.”
St Francis of Assisi Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
The Shantideva Prayer
May I become at all times, both now and forever,
A protector for those without protection,
A guide for those who have lost their way,
A ship for those with oceans to cross,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those in the dark,
And a servant to all those in need.
As long as living beings exist,
and suffering afflicts them,
May I too abide to dispel the misery of the world.
May I be a guard for those who need protection,
A guide for those on the path,
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.
May I be a lamp in the darkness,
A resting place for the weary,
A healing medicine for all who are sick,
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles;
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I bring sustenance and awakening,
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow,
And all are awakened.