A cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war is a next step to ending the bloodshed

Too many innocent lives have been lost in Gaza, many of them children. Israelis have lost their lives as well, on Oct 7 and after. A cease-fire is an imperfect beginning, but if not now, when?

SHARE A cease-fire in Israel-Hamas war is a next step to ending the bloodshed
A young Palestinian girl cries as an adult holds her shoulder.

A Palestinian girl is shown crying in the arms of an adult. Roughly 8,000 of the 18,000-plus Palestinians killed in Gaza so far have been children, according to reports.

Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty

Many barely had a chance to dream of their futures or a life beyond the cramped, walled-off 140-square-mile enclave they called home. 

They were children, and they, like the majority of the 18,400-plus Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes over the last two months, had nothing to do with the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

International support for Israel is waning due to its “indiscriminate bombing,” as President Joe Biden said Tuesday, using uncharacteristically biting language to describe the U.S. ally’s relentless counteroffensive in the Gaza Strip that has snowballed into what United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has characterized as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“In Gaza, nowhere and no one is safe,” Guterres told the U.N. Security Council, warning of the potential collapse of public order and mass displacement of Palestinian refugees into Egypt.

In spite of that and other apocalyptic wake-up calls, the U.S. last Friday vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a humanitarian cease-fire. When the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution with the same demand on Tuesday, the U.S. voted “no.” Halting military action “would only plant the seeds for the next war” and embolden Hamas, U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood unreasonably reasoned last week in explaining the veto.

The reality is that the more Palestinian civilians are killed by Israel’s bombs and ground offensive, the less sympathetic Israel becomes, threatening its security in the long run.

“If you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said recently.



Sure enough, a wartime opinion poll among Palestinians published Wednesday showed a rise in support for Hamas, including in Gaza, and an overwhelming rejection of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas. That wasn’t the case just a few weeks before.

On Oct. 6, just a day before 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals were killed and 240 others were kidnapped by Hamas, another poll conducted by Arab Barometer, a nonpartisan research network, found that 67% of Gaza residents had no trust or little trust in the militant organization that controls the area.

The 8,000 Palestinian children killed in Gaza so far weren’t even born the last time elections were held in 2006, and many of the adult victims weren’t old enough to vote. They shouldn’t have paid with their lives for Hamas’ horrific actions, any more than the Israelis who were targeted because of their government’s oppressive policies against Palestinians.

But clearly, a cease-fire is meaningless unless it includes an end to Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, the return of hostages and the free flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Cease-fire skeptics have good reason not to trust Hamas, which the U.S. and the European Union have both designated as a terrorist organization.

But the humanitarian toll of this war is intolerable. The road to peace has to start somewhere.

Public opinion favors cease-fire

The horrors that unfolded on Oct 7, claiming the most Jewish lives in a day since the Holocaust, was beyond horrific. What has followed is no less devastating, now approaching what many experts say has careened into a genocide.

Many of those who remain in Gaza are starving, and waterborne diseases and respiratory infections are skyrocketing. The 46,000 injured Palestinians and others in need of health care have nowhere to turn, as only 14 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are barely functional. 

Those suffering chronic diseases continually die, like one local Palestinian man’s disabled brother who went three weeks without dialysis before taking his last breath over the weekend, Chicago-area physician Zaher Sahloul told the Editorial Board earlier this week.

These fatalities are not counted in the death toll, but they are a byproduct of the war, said Sahloul, who is president of MedGlobal, a humanitarian non-governmental organization.

The suffering of the Palestinians, the threats against Israel, as well the proliferation of anti-Arab sentiment, Islamophobia and antisemitism in the U.S. and elsewhere, can only be tempered by a cease-fire, foreign policy expert Sara Haghdoosti said.

Several hostages were freed during the seven-day pause in fighting between Hamas and Israel and there was a de-escalation of violence in the region, noted Haghdoosti, the executive director of the public education and advocacy coalition Win Without War.

We urge members of Illinois’ congressional delegation to push for a cease-fire, as have U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D.Ill., and a few other elected officials.

The majority of likely U.S. voters — 61% — support a permanent cease-fire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza, and most prefer our country “prioritize diplomacy and humanitarian aid to curtail violence in the region,” according to a new poll by Data for Progress. Other polls have found similar sentiment.

Even some Israelis feel the same way. Peace is the only solution, said Shira Havron, an Israeli university student with several family members who were either killed or kidnapped by Hamas.

Havron told the Germany-based Deutsche Welle News that she identifies with the pain of Gaza residents. “I see big families with so many names, like erased and crossed, and it reminds me of my family, because we have so many victims as well,” she said.

It’s not necessarily brave to call for a cease-fire when so many people have died. But it is needed now more than ever. If not now, when?

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