After more than six weeks of horrific violence, it’s welcome news that Israel and Hamas have agreed to exchange dozens of hostages and commit to a pause in the fighting. These exchanges acknowledge the inherent value of every single civilian, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian.
This deal is an important step, but it is not enough. We must continue building the momentum to reach a permanent ceasefire, a return of all hostages, unfettered aid access, and peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.
This step forward towards peace is a testament to the power of committed peace activists in the United States, Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territory, and across the globe.
This hostage negotiation shows the enduring power and wisdom of talking to one’s adversaries rather than saber-rattling and escalating violence. We have been repeatedly told that a ceasefire and hostage exchange were impossible and that endless war was inevitable. But this news today underscores the power of diplomacy to bring at least some relief to people suffering in Israel and Gaza.
This step forward towards peace is also a testament to the power of committed peace activists in the United States, Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territory, and across the globe. Together, they have been demanding an end to the indiscriminate Israeli military offensive in Gaza and a reunification of these separated families. But as humanitarian experts have made clear, only a sustained end to the hostilities will allow relief to reach civilians and children in dire need.
A temporary ceasefire or humanitarian pause followed by the continuation of the bombardment and destruction is unacceptable. Regardless of the humanitarian improvements during the pause, they will all be undone, and the crisis will be exacerbated if the airstrikes and the ground invasion resume. Every leading humanitarian aid organization working on the ground in Gaza has rejected the idea that brief pauses in the violence are an adequate substitute for a permanent ceasefire.
More war is not the answer, and there is no military solution to the crisis. After a permanent ceasefire is reached, the world must finally commit to addressing the root causes underlying the cycles of violence in the region, which include the systemic oppression of Palestinians living under a brutal Israeli military occupation and a 16-year blockade in Gaza.