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A ‘Humanitarian Pause’ Is Not a Ceasefire: Why and How We Must Continue to Lobby

by in Palestine on 26th November, 2023

Following negotiations with Qatar, the United States and Egypt, there has been a four-day ‘humanitarian pause’ or ‘temporary truce’ announced to halt aggression on Gaza, starting from Friday 24th November. This has now been extended for another two days. The deal involves an exchange of hostages between Hamas and Israel and the allowance of some, but not a sufficient amount of, humanitarian aid to Gaza. 

The momentum of standing in solidarity with Palestine appears to be waning and some people seem to believe this is a significant step in the right direction. However, the humanitarian pause set to come to an end on Monday night –  now more than ever, we must continue the fight for the freedom of Palestinians and double our efforts to keep the momentum going. 

A temporary ‘humanitarian pause’ is simply not enough. It is not the same as agreeing to global calls for a permanent ceasefire, which is the absolute minimum required to prevent further loss of life. Over 14,000 Palestinians including at least 5000 children have been killed in Gaza since 7th October 2023. Palestinians in the West Bank also continue to face settler-instigated violence which has been underreported. The violence in all areas must not be allowed to continue as the truce ends. 

Global public and political outcry played a major role in the Israeli government’s acceptance of a temporary truce. Our protesting, lobbying and economic pressure have made this very small step possible, but this is the moment to keep pushing for more and better. Many people in Gaza have spent this time recovering the bodies of their deceased and burying them as well as gathering essentials for their survival, and now are preparing to face the continuation of this unimaginable violence after the pause ends.

There are also reports of Palestinians being forbidden to return home to the Northern parts of Gaza and the Israeli army opening fire on those returning home in other parts of Gaza during this so-called truce. Six days is not enough to heal from the unimaginable scars they have had to endure. 

We must not think under any circumstances that this pause is a victory. The fight for the freedom of Palestinians goes: A permanent ceasefire, lifting the siege of Gaza, ending the occupation and finally establishing a free Palestine

As Muslims, we know the struggle is long and the work is hard, but we cannot get used to these images and suffering. If Allah has placed us in a world with these particular struggles, we have a responsibility to stand up against injustice in every form, using all of our resources, for as long as we are able to. 

We have examples in the Prophet ﷺ who was persecuted in Makkah for several years, with some of his family cutting him off, his community boycotting him and much more. He didn’t simply make du’a and wait; he ﷺ knocked on every available door while trusting in Allah’s outcome. Our privileges are an amanah (trust) from Allah, and we need to use them to enact change in the world. 

Here are five ways you can continue to take action and fight for a free Palestine:

1. Continue to lobby your MP or political representative for a permanent ceasefire

Following the disastrous votes from the MPs in the UK in the ceasefire motion, we need to continue to put pressure on our political representatives until they take the right action – calling for a permanent ceasefire. For any MP who did not call for a ceasefire, use your voting power to make it clear that without this, they do not have your vote in the next election – no ceasefire, no vote.

Here are a few ways you can lobby your MP:

  • Email your MP (UK): The most effective way to reach your MP is via email. Be sure to keep your message short, relevant and personalised with a clear ask at the end. While there are email templates readily available to use, it’s likely that you’ll receive a generic response from your MP’s office or in some cases no response at all as they are often marked as spam. If you decide to use a template, spend some time personalising it as it makes all the difference. Some examples of ways to personalise your email can include: adding (in the body of the email) testimonies, tweets, stories, articles and any other information from those on the ground in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. For the US, you can write to Congress using this template and in Canada you can use this template from the National Council of Canadian Muslims to send a letter to all Canadian MPs asking them to call for an immediate ceasefire.
  • Tweet your MP (UK): You can also use social media to put public pressure on your MP by ‘tweeting’ at them with your message. You can use example tweets but as with the above, it is always best to personalise them. 
  • Meet your MP (UK): You can book a meeting or find out if your MP has walk-in surgeries to raise your concerns and shift their perspective. Before going to your MP, find out about the policies that they stand for, and how they voted in the ceasefire motion. Then, prepare the actions you would like them to take. Make it clear to them that you won’t vote for them in the upcoming election if they don’t call for a ceasefire, and encourage them to seek out and speak to Palestinian voices. Ensure that you leave the meeting with clear action plans, and intent to follow up. 

2. Continue to protest and join in direct actions calling for a ceasefire

There were continued global protests happening over this weekend and there will be more in coming weeks. Local groups are organising sit-ins and actions outside of MPs’ administrative offices to pressure them more directly. For example, on the 16th of November, four hundred Tower Hamlets school students walked out of class in a one-day strike following their MP’s careless decision to abstain from voting in the Gaza ceasefire motion. Other ways to take local action can include speaking with local religious and youth leaders to encourage them to spur their community members to take collective action. 

Protesting through direct actions, both national and local, must continue. We must show our political representatives that we will not let this go and if necessary, we will use our voting power to unseat them at the next election. 

3. Use your buying power to apply economic pressure

Over the past month, movements to put economic pressure on companies who are complicit in the genocide of Palestinians have gained unprecedented global momentum, such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

Some view the decision to have the so-called ‘humanitarian pause’ as an economic one. As a result, people on social media have called to abstain from shopping at ‘Black Friday’ sales which generate high income for brands worldwide, in order to continue to exert economic pressure around Palestine. 

Global economic pressure played a vital role in ending the apartheid in South Africa in the 90s and many believe the same can be done for Palestine. Use your buying power to make more ethical choices and exert economic pressure in order to continue to push for justice in Palestine.

4. Continue to share on social media and take online actions 

Our collective voices have made a difference in slowly turning the tide of the conversation. While we may not always see the impact of our actions, we must continue to use all of our platforms to share everything happening in Palestine, particularly through the lens of Palestinian voices (e.g. Motaz Azaiza, Bisan, Hind Khoury), trusted media outlets and humanitarian organisations with staff on the ground such as Islamic Relief and Medical Aid for Palestinians

Continue to take online actions like signing petitions calling for a ceasefire and donating to trusted humanitarian organisations. You can find a list of resources here. 

5. Do not give up

For as long as Allah gifts us with the blessing of a new day, we have a responsibility to keep going. Allah has promised victory to those who fight in His cause, who stand for justice and uphold the truth, and His promise is always true. How joyful, how satisfying to stand before your Lord and tell Him that you truly did the best you could in these trying times. This dunya is not the end for us, and the yearning for the pleasure of Allah in the hereafter should keep us going. 

May Allah continue to grant us the strength and courage to always stand for what is right, and strive to leave the world far better than we found it, and may He make our actions weigh heavy on the scales, on the day when they matter the most. Ameen. 

We will see a free Palestine in our lifetime inshaAllah, and we must continue to strive for one until we do. 

Amaliah Team

Amaliah Team

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