The network urged the media, both local and international, to stop adding fuel to fire, rather promote positive journalism to pacify the people in the streets.
Smoke and flames rise in Gaza during Israeli air attacks amid a flare-up in violence. [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]
The Global Peacebuilder Network (GPN), consisting of peacebuilders from across the world, expressed their deep concern of the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine that has been taking place for around two weeks.
In a joint statement GPN urged both states to avoid all forms of revenge and collective punishment that contradict with article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 regarding the protection of civilians in times of war. It also urged for an immediate ceasefire between forces from both sides and an immediate cessation of violence by all civilians’ groups indulging in the raging street violence.
The network also asserted that the media, both local and international, should stop adding fuel to fire, rather they should promote positive journalism to pacify the people in the streets.
The State of Israel should take necessary steps to stop all incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel and ensure that they enjoy full equality and rights, GPN urged, adding that the United Nation, the US and Egypt should accelerate their mediation efforts to put an end to the escalating violence and to the ongoing war on Gaza. All parties that include Israel, Hamas and Palestinian factions should take part in such mediation efforts, it added.
GPN also urged that resources from the European Union and other donors should go to the reconstruction of Gaza and peace building efforts to enable Israelis and Palestinians to attempt, within their own communities, to calm down tension.
Heads of all faiths around the world should call for intervention and to support the local faith leaders in peacebuilding efforts at grassroots level, GPN contended. It further added that women representatives should be included at all levels of the peace process, especially in the mediation, as per UN Security Council resolution no. 1325.
The joint statement said that the ongoing suffering of people in the region has been increased because of the escalating violence that began with attempts by Israeli forces to evict families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Further incitements by Israel included attacks during prayers in the Aqsa mosque.
“We are saddened and very concerned that this has caused violent scenes between Israeli and Palestinian civilians in a number of towns and cities and ending with the Israeli war on Gaza that was launched around 9 days ago. Hamas has its own responsibility for escalation of violence by sending thousands of rockets to Israeli towns. The images of destruction, shelling, rockets, the dead and the injured from both sides is annoying and heart-breaking”.
All sides are responsible for death and injury to many innocent people and in the words of UNICEF “children are bearing the brunt of the escalating violence,” it added.
GPN further said that as colleagues striving for peace in different corners of the world, we share the deep anguish, pain and frustration of the peacebuilders of the area who are striving to make this region a safe place for all, where the outstanding issues of occupation and right to self-determination for Palestinians can be resolved through a process that is peaceful and also respects each other based on the international legitimacy and the two-state solution.
“The Middle East Peace Process which has been perceived as the route to achieve peace is at stake. The possibility of a full-scale war — civil war between people of different communities as well as war with neighboring countries — is real. But we cannot afford a war, and never can we!”
GPN also supported the call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for Israel “to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian and international human rights law”.
“We are ever ready and willing to share our experience, as local peacebuilders from across the globe, to actively participate in putting in action any pacifying effort to build peace with justice on the ground,” it added.
The Global Peacebuilders Network brings together leading peacemakers from the civil society, experienced practitioners from more than 30 conflict regions worldwide. Their work encompasses mediation, reconciliation, trauma healing, reintegration of ex-combatants, protection of girls and women from war-related sexual violence, inter-religious dialogues and much more.
They use innovative, indigenous, inclusive and integrated models for building peaceful communities, connecting local to the global by advocating and amplifying the unheard voices of communities and individuals affected by conflict, violent extremism, discriminatory practices, negative religious and ideological practices.
Meanwhile, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between the two states that came into effect in the early hours of Friday — 11 days of relentless Israeli bombing of the besieged enclave and thousands of rockets launched into Israel by Hamas, the group ruling the Strip, according to Al-Jazeera.
The ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip appeared to be holding on Friday, but there have been tensions in occupied East Jerusalem where Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fired tear gas at Palestinians after Friday prayers, the report added.
Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank poured onto the streets to celebrate the ceasefire, waving flags and flashing the “V” sign for victory.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed at least 243 Palestinians, including 66 children, and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished territory. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, were killed.