Request from Japanese NGOs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: We call for action to secure an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestine

[Original issued on October 11, 2023; Translated by A. Turner/K. Takemura]

On 11th October, a group of four Japanese NGOs offering support to Palestine came together to deliver a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of 10th October local time, more than 900 people in Israel and 900 in Gaza have perished, and casualties on both sides number in the thousands. No more lives can be lost.

We call for the Japanese Government to make every diplomatic effort to encourage both parties to consider mediation.

Request from Japanese NGOs

To: Ms. Yōko Kamikawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan

The exchange of missiles between Palestine and Israel over the Gaza Strip has not ceased since October 7th, resulting in high casualties on both sides.

As of 10th October local time, more than 900 people in Israel (according to the Israeli government) and 900 in Gaza (according to the Gaza Ministry of Health) have perished, and casualties on both sides number in the thousands. Fighters from Hamas, the body that holds de facto control of the Gaza Strip, have infiltrated Israel and committed a number of shootings, resulting in many victims. Numerous Israeli civilians, foreigners and Israeli Defense Force soldiers have also been taken hostage. In response to this assault from Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared a status of war, and from the night of October 7th launched an assault of missiles into Gaza. In breach of international humanitarian law, attacks have been laid against healthcare facilities resulting in the death of health providers.

We, as Japanese NGOs that are active in Palestine, deeply grieve for the losses of those on both sides of this conflict. We strongly condemn every use of force, especially those that target civilians indiscriminately, as breaches of international humanitarian law, and call for an immediate ceasefire between both parties. In consideration of these circumstances, we call on the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs to enact the following.

1. That the Ministry of Foreign Affairs take every diplomatic effort, including in-country, within the United Nations Security Council and within the Quartet on the Middle East (UN, US, Russia, and EU), to match the actions of the countries of the Arab world in encouraging mediation between Palestine and Israel to reach a ceasefire as soon as possible.

2. Every effort must be taken to ensure that the blockade Gaza is under does not result in a lack of critical supplies, such as water, food and medical supplies. We call for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate humanitarian terms of ceasefire that are acceptable to both Israel and Hamas so that support may be delivered to victims as soon as possible.

Gaza, commonly referred to as an “open-aired prison”, has been facing a blockade by the IDF since 2007. With 6,000 inhabitants per square kilometer, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Facing missile attacks night and day, the people of Gaza have nowhere safe to run. With the sights and sounds of missile-fire a daily event, the people of Gaza are quite figuratively living in hell. According to the United Nations, on October 9th local time, over 137,000 people sought refuge in UNRWA establishments such as schools, however, even then there is no 100% guarantee of safety. Israeli electricity companies have also ceased supply to the Gaza Strip, and access to the internet has been cut as of the 10th. All access points to Gaza have been closed, and the supply of water, food and medical supplies has been severely restricted. Unfortunately, this situation has occurred a number of times over the past few years.

We support clause four of the statement titled “The Clashes between Israel and the Palestinian militants” that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released on October 8th, wherein the Ministry “urges all the parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid further damage and casualties”. We do not condone the use of violence under any circumstances nor to further any goal by either party. We call for the cessation of all acts of violence and any actions encouraging them.

In addition, we call for the Japanese government that holds friendly relations with both parties to make every practical effort to communicate with the government and diplomatic missions to stop this chain of violence. Further, considering the severe oppression that Gazans have faced for many years, we call for further diplomatic efforts to advance toward a solution to the very Palestine question itself.

11 October 2023

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