Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation is appalled by the violence against innocent civilians shown by both Israel and Hamas in their current war.
On 7 October, Hamas infiltrated Israel, killing over a thousand Israeli civilians and taking over two hundred hostages.
The next day the Government of Israel declared war, aiming to destroy Hamas’s governing and military capabilities and to bring the hostages home.
They launched intensive air strikes into the densely populated Gaza Strip. By the end of October, over eight thousand Palestinians had been killed and over twenty thousand injured. 70% of these victims were children, women and the elderly. Around 45% of all homes in Gaza had been damaged or destroyed.
In addition, Israeli authorities imposed a complete siege on Gaza, cutting their water supply, electricity, food, fuel and medical supplies and so worsening the already dire humanitarian situation. The magnitude of the ongoing hostilities has led to grave humanitarian consequences. Hospitals are barely functioning, tens of thousands of homes as well as other infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed.
Coventry knows what it means to be relentlessly bombed. But its leaders knew how to forgive, and in consequence it became a City of Peace and Reconciliation and this Committee was formed.
This Committee understands that Israel wishes to eradicate Hamas and to free the hostages, but there are international laws that establish what can and can’t be done in an armed conflict. One of these is the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which prohibits all intentional attacks on the civilian population and civilian objects.
Hamas, being a terrorist organisation, does not obey the Convention. And although Israel has ratified this law, it appears not to obey it. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating war crimes allegedly committed by both Israel and Hamas since 2014. However, Israel is not a member of the ICC and disputes its jurisdiction.
This Committee calls upon both sides of this terrible war to free hostages, to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians and to stop attacking civilian targets. It would encourage everyone to donate to the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians https://www.map.org.uk/