Femena: Right, Peace, Inclusion

Femena: Right, Peace, Inclusion
Supporting WHRDs & progressive feminist movements in MENA & Asia.

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Femena Urges De-escalation between Israel and Iran and Calls for a Ceasefire in Gaza

Femena expresses deep concern at the rising tensions and potential for regional war as a result of Iran’s retaliatory strikes against Israel in response to Israel’s unlawful attack on the Iranian diplomatic mission in Syria, which killed sixteen people. Femena urges world leaders, and especially the United States political leadership to call for restraint and diplomacy and to press for an immediate de-escalation of the situation. Another round of retaliatory strikes, promised by Israel, will only inflame the region and increase violence. Most importantly, it will detract attention from the most pressing issue: a permanent ceasefire and an end to Israel’s brutal military offensive in Gaza, which has killed over 33,000 Palestinians, the majority of them women and children. 

The prospect of war with Iran and warmongering serves the interest of Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s ruthless siege of Gaza at a time when Israeli tactics and conduct in Gaza are being more closely scrutinized and criticized following the killing of international humanitarian workers affiliated with World Central Kitchen (WCK) earlier this month. The death of the WCK team members helped draw attention to the famine that has gripped much of Gaza due to Israel’s restrictions on humanitarian aid. Additionally, the images of utter and complete destruction and devastation in northern Gaza, and the aftermath of the Israeli military’s withdrawal from Al Shifa hospital have clearly shown the extent of potential war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law Israel has committed. The prospect of war with Iran deflects the world’s attention from Israel’s conduct in Gaza and onto the potential for regional conflict. It is worth remembering that prior to this latest military offensive in Gaza, Netanyahu was deeply unpopular in Israel, facing regular protests for his overhaul of the judiciary, as well as multiple charges for corruption and bribery. 

The prospect of war also serves as a distraction for the Islamic Republic of Iran, where discontent with the government is high, as evidenced by record-low participation rates in recent legislative elections. Inflation and economic hardship have made life very difficult for average Iranians, who are also deeply angered by the government’s vicious repression of the extensive protests that gripped the country following the death in police custody of Mahsa Jina Amini on 16 September 2022. Resentment persists over the government’s intensified crackdown on civil society and its continued repression of women under the guise of enforcing mandatory hijab laws. In times like this, a possible war becomes a convenient way for the Islamic Republic to deflect attention from its own failings and to increase repression. Sadly, this war will only harm ordinary Iranians who have no desire for conflict, having experienced a brutal and prolonged war with Iraq in the 1980’s, the repercussions of which still impact Iranian society. 

It is against this backdrop that Femena expresses its concern about the potential for further violence and bloodshed. We note with great distress that instead of actively pushing for a ceasefire, the United States has continued to supply unconditional military aid to Israel. Along with Germany and the UK, the US continues weapons sales to Israel which persists with a relentlessly cruel war in Gaza and intensifies acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.  

Femena, once again, calls upon world leaders to uphold the principles of international law they profess to believe in. Over the last six months, those of us from the region and more broadly the global south, have witnessed the blatant use of double standards by self-proclaimed defenders of human rights concerning Israel’s clear violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. While many Western states rushed to condemn Iran’s strikes against Israel, there was virtually no reaction in response to Israel’s unlawful strike on the Iranian embassy, which is also a clear violation of international law. The instrumentalization of human rights and international mechanisms is causing irreparable damage, undermining the very tools set up in the aftermath of the second world war to hold nations accountable on human rights and prevent atrocities. We urge these states to uphold the human rights regime and examine their own roles in perpetuating atrocities against the Palestinian people and their contribution to what could be a devastating expansion of the conflict. 

Femena sees these escalating tensions as connected to the war in Gaza and stresses the prioritization of a ceasefire and end to the military offensive that has wrought catastrophic devastation in Gaza. It is an imperative first step towards the ultimate aim of ending the occupation of Palestine and working towards a justice-based political solution. We call on the international community, including women’s movements and rights groups, to resist the escalation of conflict and advocate for viable alternatives that can bring a durable and just peace to the region.