Ahrar Ahmed, Milia Ali, Shaheen Ali, Quamrul Haider, Javed Helali, Anisur Rahman and Shah Jahan, on behalf of the members of the Bangladesh Friendship Club

We are a group of concerned citizens living in various parts of North America, Europe and Asia who are members of an on-line discussion group. We are alarmed and appalled at the rapid and unprecedented escalation of tension and violence in Gaza and Israel, and the progressive intensification of the death and injuries, the destruction and disruptions, and the pain and suffering inflicted on all sides to the conflict. The rising death toll, mostly of innocent civilians in Gaza, is morally unacceptable, and the situation must be stabilized to contain this deadly and dangerous spiral before more lives are lost, and the prospect of peace becomes increasingly more difficult. We would like to lend our voices to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a negotiated settlement to all outstanding issues.

As we all know, Gaza is a very densely populated area and there is very little land to separate Hamas from civilians, or for people to relocate anywhere for shelter and refuge. Therefore any Israeli attack will result in huge civilian casualties, not because the Gazans are cynically using civilians as human shields, but because it is dictated by the simple arithmetic of demography and space. It should also be pointed out that people in Gaza live in almost inhuman conditions, with crumbling infrastructures, rising unemployment, meager social services, and little hope for the future. Israel’s policies have contributed significantly to this state of affairs. It is also understood that people in Israel deserve to live in peace and safety and some desperate actions of Palestinian extremists generate fears and anxieties in many and jeopardize their sense of security and well-being.

It is important to move beyond the blame game and find a solution to prevent this recurring cycle of violence. We acknowledge historical injustices towards the Jewish people as well as the people of Palestine. The way forward is to find a compromise since it is not possible to turn back the clock, nor is it helpful to remain prisoners of their respective pasts which cloud their judgments, and complicate their futures.

We urge you to work towards a permanent solution in this conflict which guarantees the security of both parties, a homeland for each and the right to live in peace in their respective territories, be comfortable in their own identities, and pursue their own economic interests and political destinies in justice and freedom. This problem affects the security not only of the people in the conflict zone, but of civilians throughout the globe.

Certainly the people involved in the conflict will bring their own perspectives to the table and we hope and pray that a negotiated diplomatic solution is found to the satisfaction of all parties. May we suggest that the land be fairly and equitably allocated following principles established by UN Security Council Resolutions, practical considerations, and moral imperatives.

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