Yet another war in Gaza. What to do?

This is a very difficult post to write.  Yet again Palestine & Israel are at war and thousands on both sides have already or possibly will die.

After the attack by Hamas on Simchat Torah (October 7th), understandably, Israel is hurting, grieving and many there are angrily demanding action against the murderous terrorists who kill so many, kidnapped nearly 200 and wounded thousands.

But as we all know, it is not always possible to make good decision when you are angry, hurting, grieving, a cooler head is needed.

Hamas is not Palestine. It has held Gaza in a destructive dictatorship for over 15 years, inviting retaliation from Israel time after time, to strengthen its grip & generate propaganda.

Israeli Governments over the last 15 years has been willing enough to play this game, to pretend that peace is impossible, to trigger another round of violence when they need to win elections, until on Simchat Torah, the monster they cultivated became too powerful and acted in a way the Israeli security apparatus failed to anticipate.

So where does the conflict go now?

After many days of Israel pounding Gaza with bombs & rockets (which have not stopped Hamas firing its rockets back), it looks inevitable that the ground offensive will start soon, maybe will have already before you read this.  This will be catastrophic for the people of Gaza.  However careful the IDF tries to be (and as a former IDF soldier, I am not sure all its soldiers will be that careful), civilians will be killed as Hamas fighters use them as human shields.  In my opinion, this is what Hamas want, they want pictures of civilians being hit by Israeli weapons (even pictures of those hit by their own misfiring rockets will do) for the propaganda, to recruit more cannon fodder, to show that only they are fighting for Palestine.

The reality is that Hamas care even less for the people of Gaza than Israel does, all that Hamas want is power, power to force their extremist view on Gaza and (if they get the chance) all of Palestine.

And when the fighting is over, then what? How will Israel deal with the 2 million or more people in Gaza, many of whom are also the victims of the brutal Hamas regime?  The relatives & friends of those killed will not care if the deaths were not intended and will want revenge on Israel.

Hamas won’t disappear even if Israel reconquers Gaza. Even if it did, another similar organisation will take its place with similar ideology with a ready pool of volunteers of young hot-headed men willing to kill & be killed to wreak revenge on Israel.

The cycle of violence will not stop unless one side realises that neither will win this way. As an Israeli, I hope it is Israel that does and steps back from playing the game according to Hamas’s rules.

Meanwhile, we must do what we can here in the UK con do to get both sides to step back from the brink.

Today I saw this tweet thread from Yachad UK highlighting the relatives of some who were killed on Simchat Torah who do not want more deaths, who do not want revenge taken on any Palestinians in their name.  There are many other voices in Israel and Palestine urging for calmer actions instead of war.  It these voices that give ne hope that there is another way, a way that will allow Israelis & Palestinians, Jews & Arabs, to have the peace & security they both deserve & desire.  

To end on an optimistic note, 10 years after the Yom Kippur War, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt, 11 years after Israel invaded Southern Lebanon to expel the PLO from the area, Yitzhak Rabin & Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords 

Both Israelis & Palestinians deserve “to be a free people in our own country” (לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ / أن نكون شعباً حراً في وطننا ), in the words of the Israeli National Anthem.  All we here in the UK can do is support those working for this on both sides to bring this about, to build understanding & co-operation.  LDfPME are trying to do this by making sure their voice is heard and making sure that our party, our Government, our media hear these voices. 


* Leon Duveen is Chair of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East, a new group of Lib Dems working to support those trying to a solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict and to providing information about these peacemakers.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • The Israeli PM has said that Israel’s response ‘will change the Middle East.’ I fear he plans to seize the opportunity that Hamas have given him and will attempt to completely empty Gaza of all Palestinians. If he does, I’m sure the UK and the USA will utter words of condemnation but nothing more.

  • Yes we do need to thank Emma for all that she brought to a contest in a seat that was not an obvious place for Lib Dems to welcome a by-election. It made me remember Laurie Milward in the 1966 Hull North by-election. She inspired all who came to help from across the country and was a superb candidate. We lost the deposit – twelve and a half per cent in those days.
    We also need to thank Caron for helping us work through conflicting emotions in the face of Emma’s result.

  • Control of Gaza by the Israelis will be like water in a seive. I served with the SADF in the townships in Johannesburg in the early 80s and well remember having to look over my shoulder all the time. They will bury their weapons and bide their time. Indeed I would not be surprised if they just let the city stew, apart from rescuing any hostages they can locate.

  • I welcome Leon’s article, although like all of us, he has had to include speculative judgements about the motives of those involved, some of which may be wrong.
    What is unequivocal is that for Israel to continue bombing a population which includes children and babies who can’t possibly be combatants is wrong. Emotions are inevitably and understandably high in Israel, but that is exactly why the international community needs to be a calming influence. Biden and Sunak have failed. Biden got ‘twenty lorries’ and Sunak got nothing. Allowing Israel to take charge of the relief effort and veto the provision of aid unless it’s on their terms, is utterly wrong, and represents a failure by western governments which beggars belief.

  • Leon Duveen,

    The conflict is not insolvable, anymore than the Northern Ireland conflict or ending Apartheid in South Africa were. Yes it will be hard and demand both sides accept compromises, giving up on deeply cherished demands

    The best hope for peace was at the 2000 Camp David Summit, but the Israeli government didn’t make enough concessions. It also seems that 58% of the Israeli public thought that Prime Minister Barak had conceded too much.

    How can a majority of the population in Israel be convinced that a peace making more concessions by Israel is the solution?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Oct '23 - 1:48pm

    As a friend and colleague of Leon, can I say, as usual, how important a voice, people like his are, to this situation. As a Vice Chair, with my friend and colleague, Mohammed Amin, of Liberal Democrats For Peace In The Middle East, I too encourage members here to join and thus attend our Group meetings online.

    The work we are trying to do is vital, to show there is another way. The hideous terrorist outrages by Hamas, against Israelis, has led to this country, the United Kingdom, seeing more antisemitic incidents than ever, in a couple of weeks. This more than implies, it shows, there is a security issue for the Jewish community in not only the Middle East, but the Western democratic world. No actions by even a hard line right wing Israeli government, are the fault of the Jewish people. This is true in our country or abroad. Governments are not peoples, even in democracies, and peoples are not collectives, they are groups of individuals. The fears of antisemitism are real. The wrongs of successive Israeli governments, do not come into this, as an equation, or should not do so.

    It is now onwards, that groups like the one Leon has founded, with us as his co members, in strong support of the objectives, come into this with real committment. This crisis is revealing how necessary a different approach to this, is.

  • Joyce Onstad 22nd Oct '23 - 3:12pm

    Thank you Leon Duveen for your wisdom and caring. No one can win this war. Violence begets violence as we have seen for decades. The #LibDems as a party should be bolder and leading in a call for an immediate ceasefire and, as you say, finding a political way forward. We should not just parrot what Labour and the Conservatives are saying, but should also hold to account Netanyahu’s populist and right wing government for violations of international law, while of course condemning the actions of Hamas. The status quo is not tenable for both Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians cannot continue to live in an open-air prison indefinitely and Israelis cannot continue to live in fear of an imminent attack. Congratulations for LDfPME . This is what we really need. Coming together to find peace.

  • Mick Taylor 25th Oct '23 - 1:56pm

    The first problem is, Joyce and others, that Netanyahu thinks he CAN win the war and eliminate HAMAS.
    The second problem is that Western nations, especially the USA, will mouth platitudes about peace and do nothing and will continue to supply the weapons to Israel that will enable them to pursue this futile objective.
    The actions of HAMAS should land them in the international war crimes tribunal, but again, nothing will be done. Their sponsors will continue to arm them so they can carry on the killing.
    Those of us who abhor war and seek only to promote peace have an almost impossible job when there are two equally obdurate sides, both of whom seek to eliminate the other and who refuse to listen to people trying to articulate a solution.
    As an aside, those people resigning from the Labour Party on this issue clearly haven’t realised that their stance can be seen as supporting the diabolical actions of HAMAS.
    It’s one thing to decry the Israeli treatment of Palestinians and want a free Palestinian State – as I do, quite another to support cold-blooded murder of civilians including women and children for the ‘crime’ of being Jewish.

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