A week of war, terror, and death

Our hearts are filled with shock, sadness, and anger, and we mourn in solidarity with the Israeli communities.

Oct 13, 2023
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On last Saturday, 50 years after the start of the Yom Kippur war, Hamas launched an unprecedented horrifying campaign against the Israeli population, solely aimed at inflicting as much destruction, death, and trauma as possible. Kfar Aza, Be’eri, Ashkelon, Re’im, Beer Sheva - in just a couple of days, Hamas mass-murdered over 1000 civilians in barbaric violence. Our hearts are filled with shock, sadness, and anger, and we mourn in solidarity with the Israeli communities. 

Israel has not only the undebatable right of self-defence, it has the moral, legal, and political obligation to ensure the safety of the Israeli population. Equally non-negotiable, all military actions that are under the umbrella of self-defence must strictly adhere to international and humanitarian law. The loss of life among innocent civilians and the destruction of vital infrastructure that serves the purpose of serving essential human needs must be minimised. We see with despair how death is striking Palestinian families and livelihoods are turned into ruins, as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) target Hamas across the Gaza strip. Reports of over 1500 lives lost in the Gaza strip and over 400.000 people displaced leaves us with fear for the civilian population, as the escalation only seems to have started. The IDF must unquestionably commit fully, in particular in a potentially atrocious ground offensive, to international and humanitarian law.

After one week of horrific violence, we believe the international community has the responsibility to act urgently. We call upon the international community to unequivocally recognise Hamas as a terror organisation and to drop all indecisiveness that has paralysed coherent international action against Hamas in the past. It is up to the international community, including the EU, to inhibit the flow of financial and military resources towards Hamas as consequently as possible, and to apply all necessary political pressure on actors, let it be state actors as Iran or other, to stop financing and supporting Hamas. 

In this respect, we are deeply embarrassed by the irresponsible communication chaos caused by the European Commission on the topic of reviewing and cancelling EU development aid to Palestine in general. If EU development aid should have ended up financing rockets and weapons of Hamas, the EU has to answer serious questions to itself, its internal governance, and to the European citizens. If the EU development aid is ensured to be development aid, then it must be seen as instrumental for building a future that has a chance for peace. We understand that given the history of Hamas of misusing civilian infrastructure for military campaigns that the EU has the obligation to review its financial contributions, but we urge the EU and its Member States to do so with the principle in mind that humanitarian hardship for the population in Gaza must be minimised as much as possible.

Hamas has proven that it is not only a terror organisation towards the Israeli population. Hamas is also a regime of political oppression towards the Palestinian population of the Gaza strip with no democratic legitimation. Thus, all action aimed at destroying the political and military power of Hamas must recognise that Hamas must not be equated with the civilian population of the Gaza strip. In particular, with a potential ground offensive of the IDF looming, guaranteed humanitarian corridors must be established that allow Palestinians to seek refuge in designated safe areas. The recent total cut-off from power and water will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe and endanger civilian lives even further. We expect Israel, the UN and Egypt to work together, ensuring that as many Palestinians as possible can reach safety in conditions that guarantee covering humanitarian needs. In line with its agenda of destruction, Hamas already indicated to have no interest in cooperating in this. Yet, all actions of defeating Hamas must be followed up with actions and visions that open a path to a life of dignity and safety for the Palestinian population currently trapped in Gaza.

This week we stand in solidarity with the victims of the terror of Hamas and express our sorrow and empathy for the Palestinians who are paying with their lives and dreams in this war. We see with great concern the acts of violence against the Jewish communities and polarisation in Europe since the start of the war, aiming at generating an atmosphere of fear and desperation. We must not let this happen. We call therefore upon all of us to reflect how our own actions can contribute and facilitate an environment that offers a perspective of hope to our Jewish, Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian communities. It is time to reach out - this is our responsibility.   

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Pauline Raabe