On The Mounting Violence In Palestine: Toward Humanity And Human Dignity, Always – OpEd


It is our commitment to human dignity and the preciousness of life that has long led our organization to stand with Palestinians as they resist Israeli colonization, occupation, and apartheid. It is this same guiding principle that leads us to grieve the many Israeli civilians killed in the assault on their communities on October 7, and to decry Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, which is in danger of becoming a genocide. Our hearts are with all the families and loved ones mourning the appalling loss of life, and living in fear. Our commitment to the protection of basic human rights compels us to demand that the international community hold to account states and actors who would breach them. We condemn unequivocally the killing of civilians, which is not only a war crime under international humanitarian law but also a profound abandonment of morality and humanity. 

Our commitment to ending oppression and violence also requires us to address their root causes, and to surface the stories of those with the least access to justice. The horror and inhumanity did not start on October 7. Most of the political leaders and media figures now rightly condemning the killing of Israeli civilians have tolerated, if not cheered, the relentless suffering inflicted on Palestinians over many decades with the full support of the United States. There will be silence from these leaders as the humanitarian toll worsens for Palestinians. And there will be ringing and material endorsements of the dehumanizing principle that hundreds of Palestinian civilians should die, be forcibly removed from their homeland, or collectively punished for every Israeli life taken. This is a principle that no one who believes in human rights and freedom should tolerate. It is this, Israel’s U.S.-supported and sponsored subjugation of Palestinian communities – a 16-year closure of Gaza, daily bombardments, vigilante violence, torture, imprisonment, land theft, arrests, annexation, restrictions on movement – that has contributed to this moment. We can’t forge a solution if we don’t identify the full problem. 

Since 2008, Israel has launched five massive military assaults on Gaza, where nearly half of the two million-plus population is under the age of 15, killing thousands of civilians and injuring tens of thousands more. The international community has watched in silence as Israel has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against generations of Palestinians with impunity. And now, as some of its leaders use islamophobic and anamalistic vocabulary about Palestinians (as many of their racist right-wing leaders often do) and openly call for genocide, Israel is again engaging in collective punishment of a largely civilian, refugee population who cannot escape. There is good reason to fear that this will be Israel’s most horrific crime ever against Palestinians. 

What we are hearing from our friends on the ground across Gaza is utter despair, as there is no safe place for them and their children. Since Saturday, the Israeli military has killed more than 450 Palestinian children with the number rising, while cutting off electricity and prohibiting food, fuel, medical supplies, and water from entering Gaza. The intensive and indiscriminate bombardments, together with lack of electricity and attacks on telecommunications infrastructure, are making it nearly impossible for human rights defenders, journalists, and families to assess the scope of the human catastrophe. Journalists and UN aid workers have been bombed to their death, and as the UN describes, Gaza hospitals are becoming mass gravesites. As Israel prepares for a full-scale ground assault, we fear that our collective failure to reject a status quo of war, persecution, and inhumanity — where civilians are not protected, and human life is not valued equally — has left our colleagues, allies, comrades, and loved ones in Gaza vulnerable to the gravest of crimes. The hostilities must end immediately, all civilians must be protected, and all actors, including the United States, must be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

As we mourn and fight for a different future, we draw inspiration from the courage of Palestinians and their Jewish allies who continue to resist the Israeli occupation, and from the next generation of activists and organizers who, with nuance and compassion, refuse to be indifferent to human suffering, who stand on the side of justice, and who choose humanity in our interlocking struggles for liberation. This is the only way forward.

The Center for Constitutional Rights

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach.

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