As Mesoamerican women defenders, we are pained and outraged that, once again, women and their children are the main victims of patriarchal conflicts that use violence as a means. At this moment, the Israeli army is using state-of-the-art weapons to bombard the Gaza strip – one of the most densely populated territories on the planet, mostly inhabited by women and minors. Homes, schools and hospitals are being destroyed, while people remain trapped in what has been described as the world’s largest open-air prison, with no alternative means of escape and, with each passing day, dwindling access to basic needs such as electricity, water, medicine and food. This has created a serious humanitarian crisis.
We are extremely concerned about the sharp escalation of the violence that has persisted for decades in the territories labeled in Eurocentric terms as the “Middle East”, where different peoples and religions coexist within different power structures, such as the State of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, among others.
We know that the origin of this conflict lies in centuries of colonial, racist and capitalist dispossession policies imposed by “Western” powers. We therefore hold them morally responsible and demand that they take action to repair the damage done and mediate to find a solution in line with the needs of the affected peoples, and not with their geopolitical and neocolonial interests.
It is unacceptable that States, international bodies and mechanisms condone – as they did regarding Afghanistan and Iraq – that the response to a reprehensible terrorist attack should be to attack an entire population; more so when it is a peoples like the Palestinians, who have been facing genocidal violence for decades, fighting for their legitimate right to self-determination and against the expanding occupation of their territory.
We are concerned that some European States are criminalizing expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian peoples. We also worry that the European Union will instrumentalize this conflict to further restrict its migration policies and expel migrants.
At IM-Defensoras, we recognize the crucial role of women, their organizations and movements in building peace. We therefore believe it is important to take into account the indispensable efforts of women who, on both sides of walls and borders, have worked and continue to work to find solutions to this situation through dialogue.
An immediate ceasing of all violence is nonnegotiable, as is the protection of the life, integrity and rights of all the people who live in these territories. Combined with this, the root causes of the conflict must be addressed, the solution to which lies in the full recognition of the Palestinian State and respect for its territory as established in the Oslo agreements.
We demand that the State of Israel immediately cease all hostilities against the civilian population and allow the urgent opening of humanitarian corridors, and we urge the international community to remain firm and uncompromising in demanding compliance with these basic principles of international law.
We stand in solidarity with our sister defenders and journalists in Gaza, we embrace them and accompany them until the Palestinian peoples is free.