Ten songs calling for peace in Palestine

From Elyanna to rapper MC Abdul, international and regional artists are speaking their mind through music

Gaza rapper MC Abdul, 15, is one of a number of artists who have released songs for Palestine. @mca.rap / Instagram
Powered by automated translation

A growing number of international artists are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine, through song.

Spanning genres from ballads to rock and hip-hop to Arabic and Irish folk songs, these pieces by regional and international artists speak of the continuing tragedy through various perspectives.

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

Some are almost journalistic in their detail of the everyday suffering in Gaza, while others provide a historical overview of Palestine long before the current daily bombardment.

Here are 10 songs released since the Israel-Gaza war began in October.

1. Rajieen by Various Artists

Released by American record label Empire, Rajieen translates to “returning”.

The near eight-minute track features 25 Arab artists singing and rapping verses over a dramatic backdrop provided by Jordanian producer Nasir Al Bashir, alongside Egypt’s Marwan Moussa and Amr Shomali.

Those featured include two of the Arab world’s biggest hip-hop stars, Afroto and Marwan Pablo from Egypt, in addition to Jordanian viral sensation Issam Alnajjar, Syrian singer-songwriter Ghaliaa Chaker and Tunisian singer Balti.

Each artist then delivers compact verses detailing Palestine's struggle for independence before Alnajjar sings a powerful chorus of resilience.

“But the key to my home remains in my heart / And I’m returning with my children in my arms”, he sings. “Even if the whole world stands against me / I am returning, O my country, I am returning”.

2. Hold Your Fire by Kadim Al Sahir

A collaboration with the UN Chamber Music Society, the orchestral track is a rare occasion where the Iraqi singer performs in English.

The resonance remains, however, as Al Sahir sings of the anguish upon seeing civilians suffer as a result of the war.

Al Sahir is joined by a choir for the chorus as they declare: “Hold your fire / Hold for those who you love / For you, and for me / We are tired”.

3. Let It Rain by MC Abdul

The Gaza teenager and hip-hop sensation tries to come to terms with his success, which led him to relocate to Los Angeles earlier this year, and the anguish of seeing his family and friends in Gaza being left to fend for themselves.

“Made it out the maze, God's been blessing me / First time in LA, got Gaza next to me”, he raps over a brooding sample of Enya’s Boadicea.

“It's in my heart, it's in my veins / I've been smiling at the pain / The bombs lit up the night sky and turn them into day”.

4. The Little Ones by Yusuf/Cat Stevens

In a bid to raise further awareness on the conflict’s tragic impact on Palestinian children, Yusuf/Cat Stevens posted an unreleased version of 1997 song The Little Ones, written in the tragic wake of the 1995 Bosnian genocide that killed thousands of children.

“Oh, they’ve killed all the little ones / While their faces still smiled,” the song begins.

“With their guns and their fury / They erased their young lives / No longer to laugh / No longer to be a child”.

5. Ghosn Zeytoun by Elyanna

The Palestinian-Chilean singer moved the audience to tears when performing the song during the opening ceremony of Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival this month.

Meaning “olive branch”, the sparse ballad speaks of the helplessness of those watching the tragedy unfold from afar.

“Words aren’t enough, what else can I say?” she sings. “My tears have dried out, and my heart is broken / I'm far away, but I’m praying for you.

“And I’m sending peace, on an olive branch / In the land of peace, peace is dead / And the world is sleeping on a hurt child”.

6. Oh Palestine, Oh Palestine by Seth Staton Watkins

A song about Palestine by an American folk singer in the form of a traditional rebel Irish tune? Yep, it's a real thing.

Oh Palestine, Oh Palestine by Seth Staton Watkins may not sound like the traditional protest songs we're accustomed to hearing, but it packs its own punch as it tells the story of the state since 1948.

In his accompanying note, Watkins said he was compelled to the write the song in response to the death toll during the war: “I have seen footage that I cannot unsee and I weep for the martyrs and all those still suffering.”

7. Land of Canaan by El Ganainy

An intriguing hip-hop track in which the Egyptian rapper provides a wide-ranging sweep of Palestine's history.

El Ganainy describes it as a multicultural society that welcomes “Africans, the Europeans, the Kipchaks, the Slavs, the Bosniaks, the Tatar, the Turks, the believers, the disbelievers, the poor, the rich, the hermits, and the miscreants.”

The song urges young people to do their research and challenges prevailing narratives surrounding Palestine.

8. Palestine Will Be Free by Maher Zain

A call for resilience in the face of tragedy, the Swedish-Moroccan nasheed singer tackles each verse from the perspective of victims, their families and supporters.

“I saw those rockets and bombs shining in the sky / Like drops of rain in the sun's light / Taking away everyone dear to my heart / Destroying my dreams in a blink of an eye”, he sings.

“What happened to our human rights? / What happened to the sanctity of life?”

9. Rouh El Rouh by Massar Egbari

The pensive track by the Egyptian rockers supports Palestinians’ rights to their historic homeland.

“We are the people of the land / The original inhabitants, we stand”, the song begins.

“Roots reaching back to the tenth generation, Palestine, our anthem, our declaration”.

After reaching its crescendo, the song ends with a powerful message from the eyes of a Palestinian child: “Laughter hasn't left me, it's my battle cry / I am a child teaching the world to live / A world where lessons are given and life, I give”.

10. Falasteen Biladi by Humood Alkhudher

Meaning “Palestine is my country”, the plaintive track by the Kuwaiti singer has been streamed more than 10 million times since its November release.

The song explores the Arab world's enduring attachment to the Palestinian cause: “Palestine is my country / We carry it whether as a wound or as hope”.

Updated: December 30, 2023, 4:52 AM