'It won't bring them back': Israeli peace activist pleads for end to Gaza bombings

Alon Lee-Green, head of the Standing Together movement, says Gaza war will only hurt people on both sides

Alon Lee-Green at a peace protest in Tel Aviv. AFP
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As the war in Gaza continues, Israel has vowed to step up aerial attacks on the enclave as it prepares for a ground invasion.

Many in Israel are still reeling from the Hamas attack on the south, the most violent in the country's history, which killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, a little more than half of whom have been identified.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government ministers have vowed to definitively wipe out Hamas in response but as the civilian death toll mounts, so too do calls for an end to the attacks.

"This killing will bring no safety, no security, no peace for the people in Israel," Alon-Lee Green, co-founder of the Standing Together movement, told The National.

"It will not bring back to life anyone who lost their lives in the Hamas massacre ... and it will not bring back the Israeli hostages alive right now in Gaza."

Standing Together was set up in 2015 and works to bring Jews and Arabs together in what is becoming an increasingly divided society under a far-right government.

Like many in Israel, its members have been personally affected by the Hamas attack on October 7.

"We have members who lost their parents, we have leadership members that lost their cousins, we have parents that have been abducted and are alive right now in Gaza, and those people they managed to maintain a human message," Mr Green said.

Several bereaved relatives have issued calls for peace, including Noy Katsman, the brother of peace activist Hayim Katsman who was killed at his home in a southern kibbutz.

"I want you to keep on what my brother did and fight for peace and not agree to do stuff that will cause more violence and more hate,” he said a week after the attack.

Footage of Israeli hostage Noa Argamani has gone viral on social media, depicting the young woman pleading for her life as she was driven into Gaza on the back of a motorcycle.

Her father Yaakov later said of the hostages: "They are suffering too, they are being battered too. We have to stop this killing."

Magen Inon, a UK-based teacher who lost her parents Bilha and Yakov in the attack, has also called for peace.

“Our shared future is based on the belief that all human beings are equal and deserving of respect and safety. This is how I was raised and how I am raising my own children,” he wrote in an opinion piece for The Guardian.

“In the long term, and even if it’s very far away, the only real future is that of hope and peace. Please, stop the war.”

The daughter of 84-year-old Dita Heiman, also held in Gaza, has called for aid to enter the enclave to avoid "further human suffering", in a statement published on Instagram.

Others have taken a harder stance, warning that Hamas will target other communities if Israel relents with its attacks on Gaza.

Many of the hostages confirmed to be in Gaza are known for working with Palestinians in and outside Israel.

Oded Lifshitz, 83, who was taken captive by Hamas, has worked for decades campaigning for Palestinian rights, the National Union for Journalists said.

Mr Lifshitz, taken hostage with his wife, "was devoted to human rights and peace" and protested against Bedouin evictions in the Negev, the NUJ said.

"Every week, he went out in his car to the Erez checkpoint to transport sick residents of Gaza for treatment in the hospitals in Israel," it added.

Vivian Silver, 74, was kidnapped from her home in Kibbutz Be'eri and is a leader of Women Wage Peace, a joint Palestinian-Jewish drive.

"We hear words of revenge: 'all restraints have been removed', 'we’ll wipe out Gaza'. But one cannot resolve one injustice with another," the organisation said in a statement confirming her abduction.

Updated: October 24, 2023, 6:58 AM