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Stop the violence now We urge both sides to explore peaceful coexistence based on deep mutual understanding

Statement by
Kurosawa Koichi,
Secretary General
the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
October 20, 2023

The Islamist Palestinian organization, Hamas, on October 7 launched a massive attack on Israel, firing 5,000 rockets at Israelis. Its militants assaulted Israeli towns, leaving at least 350 civilians dead. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared merciless war on Hamas and started retaliatory strikes, killing many people in the Gaza Strip. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) urges both Hamas and the Israeli military to stop the fighting immediately. It also calls for the Palestinians and the Israelis to sit at the negotiating table to pave the way for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Israel has cut off all food, power, fuel, and water supplies to Gaza, completely imposing siege on the Palestinian district and repeatedly carrying out air strikes to destroy indiscriminate targets such as medical facilities and homes. On October 17, Israel struck the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, killing more than 500 people. The Israelian military is set for a massive ground invasion of Gaza. It is urging Gaza residents to evacuate to the south. But United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Moving more than one million people across a densely populated warzone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous ? and in some cases, simply not possible.” Meanwhile, Hamas is also continuing attacks by firing rockets at Israel. The death toll on both sides reached 4,600 as of October 18. The UN warns of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe and calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

The present crisis is taking place against the background of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian land since the 3rd Middle East War in 1967 in violation of the UN resolutions. Israel has gone against international law to expand its settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. The Jewish settlers have committed violence against Palestinians while the Israeli military has repeatedly attacked Palestinian homes. Palestinians are infuriated by the repeated Israeli acts of violence. Hamas are attacking Israel ostensibly for the liberation of the Palestinians and their holy land. But the indiscriminate attacks on Israel and the kidnapping Israeli citizens by Hamas, and the complete siege on Gaza by Israeli forces are all in violation of international humanitarian law and cannot be justified for any reasons whatever.

Former US president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in disregard of the Palestinian claim of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future a future independent State of Palestine. The United States should be held accountable for intervening the affairs of the Arab countries. Likewise, US President Joe Biden throws his total support behind Israel. The Japanese government keeps in step with the Group of Seven countries in unilaterally criticizing Hamas for its acts of terrorism. No countries should side with just one side of the conflict by ignoring the historical and ethnic problems that lie behind it.

Israel and Palestine should restrain themselves with calmness, immediately stop the violence against each other inquest of peaceful coexistence. Zenroren strongly demands the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, a right to self-determination for the Palestinians, the mutual recognition of a right to live for Israelis and Palestinians, and the implementation of the three principles confirmed by UN resolutions. We strongly demand that the Japanese government play its role in ending the violence through active diplomatic action for peace by making use of the Constitution of Japan’s Article 9.

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