Commonwealth’s young correspondents take a stand for peace

Commonwealth Correspondents, the body representing young journalists from across the organisation, has spoken out about the unfolding conflict in Gaza. This is their statement.

On 7th October 2023, the clear azure morning skies of Israel were pierced with a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas. In a pre-meditated, provocative, surprise offence, Hamas not only launched rockets at Israel, but also brutally killed unarmed Israeli civilians and took about 200 hostages—including children and the elderly, in response to the continued inhumane blockade of Gaza and the mass migration and the ever-expanding settlements in the Occupied Territories.

The world watched agape as Israel reciprocated with more death and destruction. Israel declared war on Hamas, killing over 4,000 children and an estimated 7,000 others, while bombing hospitals and sacred places of worship, such as mosques and churches, and displacing millions in Palestine. Since Israel’s siege in Gaza, the people of Palestine have had little access to water, food, fuel, and medical and other essential supplies.

As the calamity unfolds, we are witnessing disturbing images of bloodied children, corpses lying here and there – some charred beyond recognition, vacant eyes of family members waiting for their loved ones who are missing, and piles of rubble. This is heart-wrenching for us.

As Correspondents ourselves, we are especially appalled by the brutality meted out to our fellow journalists. Reportedly, more than one journalist a day has been killed since the first day of the war. Scores of journalists have been maimed, in the course of carrying out their professional duties. This loss is unbearable to us and the warring parties must be held accountable for this.

Irrespective of our religious affiliations, political inclinations, national identities and economic aspirations, we demand an immediate cessation of all hostilities and war crimes in the region.

All other debates and concerns, such as who triggered the war, who is more ethical and what shape the rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts should take, are secondary to the much-needed truce. Both Israel and Palestine must demonstrate restraint and magnanimity and turn toward diplomatic solutions.

Alongside the cessation, we fervently call on all parties to unconditionally :

1.     Remove any form of blockade so that humanitarian aid can pass to Gaza;

2.     Resume access to electricity, water and internet in Gaza;

3.     Protect refugee camps, hospitals and other vulnerable vicinities in the region;

4.     Free all hostages;

5.     Rescind orders of Israel to evacuate civilians in Palestine as there is a narrow margin of time to flee and as the critically injured and the aged cannot be moved from one place to another;

6. Protect innocent unarmed civilians, with special consideration towards journalists, humanitarian aid workers and youths who have risked their lives in service amidst this chaos.

7. Provide access to medical care for all those who are injured.

We appeal to the world leaders to take action to ensure that the above demands come into immediate effect.

We cannot afford to overlook the critical role that the protection of human rights, freedoms, and security plays in achieving a permanent political solution to this unending conflict. We implore world leaders to prioritise these essential conditions and take decisive action towards realising a peaceful future for all. 

The Commonwealth Correspondents request that the UN Security Council enforce an immediate implementation of the above requests and accommodate an open conversation between the representatives of Israel and Palestine, under the active supervision and support of other UN members representative of all major faiths across the globe, with the sole purpose being the resolution of the Israel – Palestine conflict through the introduction of a more open, inclusive and equitable society.

We remain astounded and aggrieved by this catastrophe and we are always keen on paving the way for love, peace, and equity.

We strongly denounce aggression, no matter where it takes place.