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We, Palestinians and Israelis, grieve together

Blog by Jamil Qassas, Monday, 27 November 2023 

Dear Friends,

My name is Jamil Al-Qassas. I’m a Palestinian refugee. My family was displaced from their village in 1948 by the Israeli army. The current scenes of Palestinians being driven out of their homes in Gaza reminds me of the 1948 Nakba.

I grew up in the Dheisheh refugee camp. During the first intifada in 1987, I was exposed to the harshness of the occupation. Our house used to be searched by the Israeli army many times a day due to its proximity to the main road and we were exposed to the violence of the Israeli army. I thought that my childhood was harsh, until I saw what the children in Gaza have experienced over the past month of a relentless bombardment with no safe place and no sense of security.

I lost my brother, my mother, and many friends because of the conflict. I was a fierce combatant in the first intifada, but over the years I learned to look at the picture from all angles. I learned that violence creates violence, and revenge creates revenge. I felt so much pain because of the events of October 7th. I did not understand what was happening. The news came like a lightning strike. I was watching TV, I was in shock, and I did not know how to act and how to communicate with my Israeli friends.

For the first time, as a Palestinian, I was not the victim. Usually, my Israeli friends take the initiative and reassure the Palestinians because we have always been the ones exposed to oppression. It took me hours to take it all in. Later, Israel’s revengeful military campaign against Gaza began, and the death toll numbers began to increase on both sides.

We, Palestinians and Israelis, grieve together. When we gathered over Zoom for the first time after the tragic events, I could feel that we model genuine empathy. We are going through a difficult time, but we are keeping the flame of hope alive and I am proud of our joint community of activists who all act as one beating heart. They all stand in solidarity with each other in this time of crisis. Our communities are going through a difficult emotional, psychological and economic time. Since October 7th, about 200,000 Israelis were internally displaced amid the ongoing Gaza war and over one million Palestinians or about 65% of Gaza’s population, are now internally displaced inside Gaza. Our role is to support our communities as much as possible and we are facing many challenges. The voices calling for hatred, anger and revenge are very loud. But CfP will not stop calling out and showing that there is another way. We will not lose hope. We continue to work for our collective liberation from fear and oppression.

Humanity should unite above all political, military, or economic interests. As Palestinians and Israelis, we call for a ceasefire, to free all of the hostages in Gaza and the Palestinian prisoners in Israel, as well as working toward a lasting political solution. Let us preserve and hang on to our humanity and morality. This is the least we have.

In solidarity,

A Letter to you from Jamil Al-Qassas

“The war will end. The leaders will shake hands. The old woman will keep waiting for her martyred son. That girl will wait for her beloved husband. And those children will wait for their heroic father. I don’t know who sold our homeland. But I saw who paid the price.”- Mahmoud Darwish

Combatants for Peace: Jamil Qassas, Noa Harell, Rana Salman and Yonatan Gher.

Peace Over War