Once again the depressing reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brings with it dozens and hundreds of casualties: wounded and killed, those left homeless and refugees in their own land. We, the Israeli members, and you, the Palestinian members of the Joint Forum of Bereaved Families, stand helpless against the grief and loss imposed on our peoples, with intensity which maddens us all. We the families, from both peoples, whom grief and loss has already touched; we who awake each morning (if we have even managed to sleep at night) with the longings for our dear ones who have fallen; we who have been working together for years in order to change this terrible reality; we must support one another now more than ever – under the current circumstances – to uphold our fellow members – who share the same goal and the same path which shuns mutual violence. We who paid the highest price in this conflict, despite the killing taking place in the neighborhoods of Gaza and the rocket attacks on Israeli towns, we must cry from every possible rostrum: STOP! No objective: national or religious, can be worth the loss of the lives of children, women and civilians who are innocent of any military involvement.
Dear Friends! We are aware that the intensity of the response of the Israeli government and Israeli army is disproportionate to that which should be expected of us. We live among our own people, and the capability of the residents in the area around Gaza to absorb incoming rocket fire has reached the limit, necessitating a significant Israeli response. We believe that it could have been otherwise. It could have been possible to speak with Hamas in Gaza, directly or indirectly, in order to reach some understanding which could have avoided this war. We believe this is how we should have acted; and that the root of this war is the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian state, of which Gaza is an integral part.
We are not attempting to justify this military action. We do not support the intensity of the killing taking place currently in the streets of Gaza. We are anxious for our sons and grandsons who are in the midst of the attack, the results of which we cannot foresee. Together with all residents of the south, we hope for the cessation of rocket fire on their towns and cities. We do not know for certain what is the right thing to do, nor what is not right under the present circumstances. But we are certain of one thing: we need each other, today more than ever. This is so that the call for peace should not be drowned out by the sound of mortars; will not disappear in the wake of aerial bombings; will not cease due to falling rockets and will not fade due to this sad war.
These days we often feel despair just as you do: Despair due to the circumstances which brought us to this day; despair due to governments incapable of replacing policies of war with a policy of peace; despair due to those among both our nations who continue to cultivate mutual hatred; accumulating anger and the need for revenge. This situation requires us to vigorously to seek out the common ground and to work together in order to bring hope to both our peoples. This is our obligation: this is the minimum required of us, even at this time when we are unsure of how we can do this.
Written by Yona Bergor.