Gaza War: Israel, Palestine tired of fighting, ready for peace

KHAN YUNIS, GAZA – NOVEMBER 4: People search through buildings that were destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip November 4 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. The Israeli army has expanded its military assault. The Gaza strip, a besieged Palestinian territory, is under heavy bombing from Israel in response to the large-scale attack carried out on October 7 by Hamas in Israel. The international community is stepping up pressure for a humanitarian truce.(Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Hamas must be eliminated for peace to reign—Israel

War crimes must be investigated- Palestine

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Israel and Palestine have both reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful coexistence in the midst of the current fighting in Gaza between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). The announcement coincides with thousands of deaths reported in the ongoing conflict on both sides of the line.

This was the outcome the 4th webinar edition of the Geopolitics Series last Thursday, which focused on the ‘Israel-Hamas War and the Way Forward.’ The dialogue’s theme was’Bridging Divides for Sustainable Peace in the Middle East and Beyond.”

The event, organised by the Media Centre for Development (MCD) in Abuja, Nigeria, in collaboration with the West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) in Dakar, Senegal, brought together stakeholders, Ambassadors of Israel and Palestine, and prominent voices across Africa. This collaborative effort seeks to address the critical pre-conditions set by each side, acknowledging their impact on survival.

The Convener of Geopolitics Series, Senator Iroegbu, while opening the dialogue, emphasised on shedding light on the pressing issue, exploring pathways to peaceful coexistence and development.

He explained that the dialogue aimed to promote understanding, address humanitarian considerations, comprehend global implications, and unlock the potential for African involvement.

“The 4th Edition of Geopolitics Series focuses on the Israel-Hamas conflict, transcending boundaries for global resonance. In partnership with West African Democracy Radio, we strive for peace, uniting voices, including the Palestinian and Israeli Ambassadors. The theme highlights our commitment to understanding, coexistence, and addressing humanitarian concerns with global implications. In these crucial moments, we aim to illuminate the conflict’s origins, challenges, and potential solutions,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria and the Permanent Representative of Israel to ECOWAS, Michael Freeman, expressed a commitment to peaceful coexistence.

He drew attention to the cruel treatment of Israelis and bemoaned the murders, family slaughter, and the horrifying acts of rape committed by Hamas against women. Freeman detailed the scope of attacks and the effect on peace negotiations before expressing alarm over Hamas’s refusal to release prisoners taken during the conflict.

He said: “We are witnessing a heartbreaking reality where children are ruthlessly killed in the presence of their parents, and parents are brutally murdered before their own children. This level of brutality surpasses even the atrocities committed by ISIS. Hamas, in a disturbing act of pride, televised this horrific attack, openly declaring their intent to repeat it.

“For Israel, our priority is ensuring that Hamas does not perpetrate such atrocities again. Ceasing fire is a possibility, but the release of kidnapped victims is non-negotiable. If Hamas genuinely desires an end to the conflict, they must commit to a long-term cessation, not a temporary pause for regrouping and subsequent attacks.

“Hamas’s current agenda aims to inflate casualty numbers for manipulation against Israel. They possess hidden weapon facilities, and even terrorists surrendering from hospitals reveal their insidious tactics. Their call for a ceasefire is not rooted in genuine intent but rather in strategic words lacking sincerity,” Freeman stated.

On the path to peace, Freeman outlined key considerations, including condemning the events of October 7th, ending the education of children to kill Jews, and acknowledging the Jewish people. He underscored the need for Palestinian leaders to stand up against Hamas’s actions, release hostages, and embrace compromise for peace.

Responding to accusations of civilian casualties, Freeman acknowledged the unfortunate reality of war but highlighted Israeli efforts to create safe zones and minimise casualties.

In response, the Palestinian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdullah AbuShawesh, affirmed the Palestinian commitment to peace.

He emphasised that Palestinians are not anti-Semitic; rather, they are worried about the attitudes held by the Israeli government. Investigating past occurrences, Shawesh traced tensions to 1917 while refuting rape accusations and reaffirming his dedication to communication and the truth.

He said: “The Israeli settlers are responsible for the horrifying acts of burning and

burying Palestinians. The claim of widespread rape is baseless and untrue, contrary to the facts.

“We stand resilient against attempts to eradicate us from our land, a struggle dating back to 1917, but we will not succumb. Our acknowledgment of the Israeli people’s right to live is not synonymous with teaching hatred towards Jews; such allegations are unfounded.”

“It is crucial to recognise that Israeli supremacy is deeply embedded in their leadership, as evidenced by historical remarks. Dispelling misinformation is paramount for fostering understanding and seeking a just resolution to the longstanding conflict.”

In seeking solutions, Shawesh proposed an inquiry commission, independently investigating claims from both sides. He urged involvement from the African Union and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to address what he termed war crimes committed by Israel.

A American-Israeli activist, Ms. Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, expressed grave concerns about the war’s aftermath, especially as it affected women and girls. An emotional Jaskoll talked on how the assault has affected Israel, revealing that people are volunteering every day to help with funerals as parents mourn their children.

She made it clear that Hamas must go in order for peace to win out; it is not a solution. She emphasised the need for peace for the sake of future generations, called for women to participate in decision-making processes, and underlined the terrible effects on women and girls, including evidence of sexual assault on young girls following the attack.

“It is imperative for women to be active participants in decision-making committees, bringing forth their creative ideas. Our pursuit of peace is fundamentally for the well-being of our children. Let us invest our time in securing a future for our children through concerted efforts. Recognize that none of us is going anywhere unless we collectively strive for a harmonious and prosperous future, “she said.

Speaking on ‘Nigerian/African diplomacy and perspective in resolving the conflict’, former Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, Usman Sarki, insisted on the two-state solution.

Sarki noted that the positions of both Nigeria and Africa is that Palestinians deserves the rights to statehood and called for a “reinvigorated and enhanced roles of the United Nations” as well as the full implementation of the UN Resolution in 1947.

“Nigeria and Africa should call for Palestine to become a full-fledged member of the United Nations…recognition of the rights of Palestine to exist as country within the 1967 border”, he added.

In her welcome address, the Station Manager of WADR, Ms. Agnes John-Thomasi, stressed the profound loss experienced by both sides and advocated for unity through dialogue, recognizing it as the path to true peace.

“The road to lasting peace may be challenging, but it is not insurmountable. Together, let us construct bridges for peaceful coexistence, for the world truly needs peace,” John-Thomasi said.

Other speakers include Mr. Fidel Amakye Owusu, Security and Geopolitical Advisor, Riley Risk Inc, Ghana who gave an ‘Overview: What has geopolitics to do with this conflict – from Africa to the wider world’; and Dr. Samuel Ayegba, Department of Defence and Security Studies, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, who ‘Explored the role…perspectives of the academic institutions.

The webinar concluded with a shared understanding that the road to lasting peace may be challenging but is not insurmountable. The commitment expressed by Israel and Palestine, coupled with the engagement of stakeholders, marks a significant step toward fostering understanding and seeking solutions for sustainable peace.

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