We are devastated by the horrifying news and images coming out of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. As the civilian death toll continues to climb well into the thousands, we mourn the unnecessary loss of life as a result of actions that numerous humanitarian experts describe as war crimes. This includes the murder of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli military’s ongoing indiscriminate attacks and collective punishment of Palestinians. No life is more valuable than another and we must seek to protect the human dignity of all peoples.

POMED was founded in the aftermath of the indefensible U.S. invasion of Iraq with a firm commitment to the belief that the advancement of democracy is not only in the interest of the people of the region, but is also in the strategic interest of the United States. POMED believes in the potential of the United States to play a positive role in supporting democracy and respect for universal human rights in the Middle East and North Africa.

We fully support the Biden administration’s assertion that democracies “are stronger and more secure when we act according to the rule of law” and agree that this is “a time for resolve and not revenge.” Right now, the administration and Congress should act accordingly by calling for restraint and the immediate cessation of hostilities and unequivocally demanding that all parties adhere to international law. This includes the protection of civilians, return of hostages, and safeguarding of human rights, as well as the immediate provision of humanitarian aid and resumption of access to electricity and water in Gaza. In addition, the United States must not be complicit in fueling, arming, or encouraging war crimes; it must adhere to U.S. law and ensure that its military assistance is used only for defensive purposes and does not support human rights violations.

We urge U.S. policymakers to renew attention to the root causes of this violence. Any solution must grant Palestinians and Israelis equal rights and access to a life of freedom, dignity, security, and peace.