Right Livelihood calls for immediate ceasefire and an end to Israel’s occupation for lasting peace in Israel/Palestine

Editor’s note: The below statement published on October 11, 2023, was amended with the following information on October 19, 2023:

Our initial statement left room for misinterpretation on crucial points where we do not want our words to be misunderstood or misconstrued. Right Livelihood condemns the terrorist attack perpetrated by the radical Islamist group Hamas against Israeli civilians on October 7 in the strongest terms. We are heartbroken over the horrendous loss of life and mourn with the families whose lives have been shattered by this senseless violence. We strongly condemn the kidnapping of civilians by Hamas and call for their immediate release. Nothing can excuse the brutal acts committed by Hamas. We stand for the rights of civilians who are suffering and call for an end to the devastating loss of lives witnessed in Israel and Gaza over the past weeks. We firmly believe that adherence to international law can indeed provide a lasting solution to this protracted conflict, which has seen so many victims and so much trauma on all sides. 

Our statement from October 11:

Right Livelihood condemns in the strongest terms the killings of civilians in Israel/Palestine and calls for the immediate end of Israel’s decades-long illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory, as the primary and necessary solution to prevent further violence and loss of civilian lives. We urge all parties to immediately halt the targeting of civilians and abide by international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

On October 7, 2023, Palestinian armed groups launched a surprise attack against Israel, firing rockets, infiltrating Southern Israel and taking hostages to Gaza. Palestinian militants opened fire indiscriminately and burned down houses, killing more than a thousand Israelis, mainly civilians. Israeli occupation forces have been retaliating with indiscriminate airstrikes on residential buildings, schools and hospitals across the Gaza Strip, killing more than a thousand Palestinian civilians and displacing more than 250,000, with numbers growing by the minute. On October 9, the Israeli defence minister openly and publicly violated international law by announcing a total siege on Gaza, cutting off food, water and electricity supplies, thus depriving 2.2 million people of their survival goods, as a form of collective punishment. We are deeply concerned by the seemingly imminent ground offensive, which would further worsen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

We strongly condemn the crimes committed since October 7 and call on all parties to abide by international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The deliberate targeting of civilians is illegal, inhumane and immoral. 

The current escalation of violence cannot be detached from the historical and political reality of Israel’s 56-year-long illegal occupation of Palestine. An occupation which has seen Palestinian people suffering systematic violations of their basic human rights under a system of oppression and domination amounting to apartheid, as extensively documented by major human rights organisations. 2023 has seen unprecedented repression in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the first nine months only, according to OCHA, Israeli forces killed 227 Palestinians, demolished 752 structures, and displaced more than 1,000 people. 

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, causing a permanent humanitarian crisis marked by extreme poverty, harsh living conditions, dysfunctional infrastructure and an extremely fragile healthcare system. Throughout the past 15 years, violence in Gaza has been cyclical, with Israel launching indiscriminate airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian infrastructures.

As stated by Right Livelihood Laureate organisation Physician for Human Rights – Israel in a recent statement: “These events can only be understood within the context of a brutal 15-year siege on two million Gazan residents … The militants who infiltrated southern Israel … were born into a reality of perpetual humanitarian crisis, air raids, deaths and injuries, and utter lack of hope.”

Right Livelihood calls for an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory, as required in UN resolutions since 1967, as the primary and necessary solution to prevent further loss of civilian lives and to put an end to the injustice that has affected entire generations of Palestinians living under occupation. We fully support the Commission of Inquiry’s work to collect evidence of war crimes and call on the International Criminal Court to promptly conduct an investigation into the crimes committed. This reality has been ignored and disregarded for too long by the international community and media outlets, with no accountability provided whatsoever. Impunity only fuels further violence.

In these difficult days, we stand with Right Livelihood Laureates directly affected by the violence. Raji Sourani, a prominent human rights lawyer in Gaza, is experiencing first-hand the horrors of this war. He claimed: “All that we want is simple and clear: the end of the occupation. We want dignity and freedom, period, like any other people on Earth”. Physicians for Human Rights – Israel is striving to provide healthcare and assistance to victims of the attacks. They argue: “Even at this moment of pain and fear, we must maintain our humanity and adhere to the values of human rights.”