It is unbearably sad to see the increasing destruction and deaths in Gaza. This must stop as early as possible. At the same time an escalation of war and violence is not advisable, keeping in view the need to avoid the bigger threats to world peace. The UNO has failed yet again to play an effective role in stopping one of the biggest tragedies of this century.
In this difficult situation, one non-violent solution that can still be attempted is for the nearly a dozen countries of the Middle-East region (including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and others) to get together for united action for ceasefire and peace. They should hold emergency talks for quick united action. Even if all cannot agree and one or two of the smaller countries do not join this unity initiative it does not matter and it is still worth going ahead.
With unity these regional countries should communicate the following urgent message to the Israeli government.
Israel should immediately agree to a ceasefire and stop all further aggression, bombings and assault in Gaza, to be followed by permission and facilitation for large-scale relief, rehabilitation and medical help to reach Gaza. If Israel does not announce a ceasefire within a very short time limit, all of these regional countries will start a boycott of Israel in the context of all economic, trade, transport and related issues. The UN relief agencies will of course remain active and these countries can continue to cooperate with them as UN member countries. This will not be affected. Secondly, these countries should tell Israel that they are willing and eager to play a very sincere and strong role in ensuring the protection and return of all civilian hostages of Israel.
Of course this united statement of regional countries will add that any on-going aggression against Israel from forces hostile to it will also stop and these countries will help to ensure this.
It is to be hoped that the Israeli government will respond positively to this. In fact all those people in Israel who genuinely desire peace are likely to welcome such an initiative. All forces of peace in the world should welcome such an initiative for ceasefire and peace in Gaza. This is one step that can still be taken up in a non-violent way and without any risk of escalation. All other issues can be resolved later once ceasefire and peace have been secured. Ceasefire and peace should be followed immediately by very large-scale international relief and rehabilitation effort, including medical help.
The unity achieved among regional countries in this context can also be used in future to achieve real justice-based peace which protects and balances the most essential and genuine needs and aspirations of all sides.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children and Man over Machine.