The surprise attack on Israel launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip last weekend caused innumerable, immediate casualties – hundreds of deaths, thousands wounded and over a hundred Israeli civilians kidnapped, brutally abused and killed. The massive, retaliatory Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed and wounded thousands of civilians, followed by electricity, food, water and critical supplies cuts that are rapidly choking Gaza in a cycle of violence and reprisal that risks endangering the search for peace and stability in the wider region for years to come.
Club de Madrid strongly denounces and condemns this dramatic and escalating violence that needs to be immediately stopped. We recognise the legitimate right of self-defence, but not at the cost of lashing against innocent civilians.
As the death toll in Israel from attacks by Palestinian armed group, and in Gaza due to Israeli bombardments, continues to rise, with mass displacements in both sides, we call on the parties involved to protect civilians by all means and to abide by their legal obligations under international humanitarian law. Club de Madrid calls for the immediate release of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza. We call on Israel to restore provision of water and electricity to Gaza and refrain from attacks on civilian sites. We also call on the entire international community to guarantee humanitarian assistance to all those in need and to use its diplomatic capital to put an end to this cycle of violence. Escalation will only bring more suffering to a population trapped in a conflict that should have been resolved decades ago.
Violence and military action will never be the answer. Only dialogue and political negotiation will bring long-awaited peace to the region. These are times for responsible leadership. The world is watching.