Gaza and Israel: a plea for humanity

Dear Friend,

I write to you following yet another turbulent week in Israel and Gaza. It is barely three weeks since I was in Israel on an NIF global staff study tour, and yet the gear shift in the country from bated breath to a fever pitch is palpable.

Last Tuesday, the World Central Kitchen aid disaster that killed seven innocent aid workers shook the world. Jose Andres, the head of the humanitarian organisation, stood up and stated: “Israel is better than the way this war is being waged.”

On Saturday night, IDF troops fully withdrew from the Southern city of Khan Younis, and as we speak the negotiations for a ceasefire and the return of the hostages continues in Cairo.

At NIF, we are committed to finding ways in which we can bring humanitarian relief to Gaza right now even amid extreme uncertainty and hostility. We are steadfast in our insistence that the hostages must come home without further delay; and we state that this war must end as soon as humanly possible.

Our partners at Gisha are at the forefront of our humanitarian work. Along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Physicians for Human Rights and others, they filed a petition, heard last week in the Supreme Court, against the Israeli government and for Aid Action Now.

Gisha has come out with a clear analysis that states that Israeli policy has been impeding efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza.

You can watch Gisha executive director Tania Hary speak to CNN about how, through the utilisation of arduous inspections, lack of safe distribution, and limited border crossings, humanitarian aid has been severely restricted in the past months.


Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

As I write to you this Monday afternoon, this reality is already shifting, with the promise of an additional crossing for the passage of aid, and the largest amount of food and water reaching the strip yesterday since the war began.

This past week also feels pivotal for the public mood on the streets of Israel.

Over 100,000 people protested in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the largest 4-day gathering since the war started. Demonstrators called for the release of the hostages and for immediate elections, shattering the prevailing sense of consensus and the notion that we must wait until the war ends to bring about political change.

We were dismayed to see the protests ending with police violence and arrests, including footage of Ayala Metzger, daughter-in-law of elderly hostage Yoram Metzger, being dragged by police in Jerusalem.

Our partner ACRI is at the forefront of defending the right to protest, demonstrate and document.

Their recently updated DocuRights resource is a mini pamphlet on rights in Arabic, Amharic, English and Hebrew, which includes clear information on what is permitted and prohibited at protests; demonstrators’ rights when violence erupts or there is damage, detention, or arrest. The pamphlet is distributed at protests and available as a smartphone app and has proved an invaluable resource for those at the frontline.


Below I have included some images and short clips from the protest I attended in Jerusalem just a couple of weeks ago.  

Nothing can prepare you for the heart-breaking moment when each of the 133 (then 134) hostages’ names are called from the stage, and the crowd, which includes mothers, grandsons, nieces, and nephews of those taken hostage, shouts back, ‘Habayta Achshav’  

Bring Them Home Now.

Left to Right: SOS Hostages, a clip from a hostage release protest, and a sign that reads ‘Who are we if they are there?’

Our partners at Yachad have written an open letter to Lord David Cameron and the Right Honourable David Lammy, marking six months of war between Israel and Hamas. They are calling on the British government to do more to bring an end to hostilities and to protect and provide for all civilians caught up in this conflict. Much of the letter echoes the work of NIF grantees in Israel and we encourage anyone who wishes to add their name. 

In this critical moment, your support of our work means Israeli organisations who are fighting on the ground to save lives today and bring about a shared, safe future tomorrow can continue their work.  

They cannot do it alone. We cannot do it alone. 

In partnership and hope, 


Atira Winchester
Director of Content and Leadership, The New Israel Fund UK

Yachad’s letter to the UK Foreign Office reflects the position and work of our grantees in Israel. We urge you to consider signing this letter.
We are also continuing to signpost you to World Central Kitchen, who have paused their work, but will hopefully resume their operations soon.
As of today, UK Med are still operating in Gaza. They have treated over 2000 people in Gaza through mobile clinics, a field hospital and surgical support.  

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Support the New Israel Fund here.

Top photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

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