Islamic Society of Kingston issues statement on Israel-Hamas ceasefire

The Islamic Centre of Kingston, located on Sydenham Road. Kingstonist file photo by Samantha Butler Hassan.

Editor’s note: The following is a submitted statement, written by the Islamic Society of Kingston. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.

The Islamic Society of Kingston is cautiously encouraged by the news of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, that hostages and detained Palestinans are being released, and that much-needed aid will begin flowing into Gaza.

For 49 days, we have witnessed a dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with its impact extending into the West Bank. Innocent civilians in Gaza endure relentless bombing and sniper attacks by the Israeli military.

Indiscriminate civilian killings amount to war crimes and must be condemned. As people of conscience, we unequivocally denounce the loss of innocent civilian lives, regardless of ethnicity, race, or faith. The attacks on October 7 resulted in 1,200 deaths in Israel. As of November 23, 2023, the Israeli government’s subsequent attacks and collective punishment on Gaza have resulted in the killing of over 14,800 people, including at least 6,000 children, and 47 families have been wiped from the civil registry in Gaza. The devastating death toll in Gaza continues to climb as more victims are identified and accounted for.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 53 journalists and media workers are confirmed dead. More than 100 UN staff have been killed.

Gazan infrastructure has been destroyed. The United Nations’ Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported 137 attacks on medical facilities, 207 healthcare workers have been killed, and patients are without any means of essential care. Due to Israel’s complete interruption of electricity and fuel to Gaza, ventilators in intensive care units and incubators for premature babies are non-functional, leading to preventable deaths. Patients are being deprived of lifesaving oxygen. Even internationally protected sanctuaries — 311 education facilities, 88 places of worship, and multiple refugee camps — have been indiscriminately targeted.

The bombardment and siege conducted by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has forcibly displaced more than 1.7 million people and buried thousands under rubble. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has sent a warning stating, “We are deeply distressed at the failure of Israel to agree to — and the unwillingness of the international community to press more decisively for — an immediate ceasefire. The failure to urgently implement a ceasefire risks this situation spiralling towards a genocide conducted with 21st century means and methods of warfare.”

The crisis is not new; Palestinians have endured 75 years of occupation, with Gaza under siege since 2006. The Israeli government’s complete control of Gaza and its resources — deemed apartheid by Amnesty International — perpetuates systems of oppression.

This war on Gaza has directly impacted our Kingston community. The bombardments and air strikes have killed five family members of Dr. Rana Mohanna, a Kingston resident, including her mother, father, sister, pregnant sister-in-law, and one-year-old nephew whose body has still not been recovered from the rubble of their house. Her husband Dr. Mahmoud Alsalehi’s cousin was killed and his family home was destroyed in air strikes. Many others in our community have had only limited communications with their relatives in Gaza.

There has been a significant rise in Islamophobic and antisemitic attacks/incidents, as reported by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. It is imperative to emphasize that criticism of the Israeli government’s policies is not criticism of the Jewish faith and is not antisemitism — just as criticism of Canada’s policies regarding residential schools, lack of drinkable water in Indigenous communities, and Canada’s general mistreatment of Indigenous peoples is not a criticism of Canadians.

We remind everyone that we stand together with all people of conscience and humanity, which includes our Jewish brethren, our Christian brethren, and people of all or no faiths, in condemning acts of hate, violence, and the killing of innocent civilians.

The Islamic Society of Kingston echoes the same sentiment as UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UNHCR. We call for an immediate ceasefire, and open humanitarian corridors into Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. We need to advocate for the protection of all civilians, and the release of all hostages and wrongfully detained people.

The world is bearing witness to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. The civilians being senselessly killed are not just numbers, statistics, or collateral damage; they are innocent human beings with loved ones, stories, and dreams.

We must come to grips with the lives lost as a failure of our collective humanity; any further deaths are preventable if there is an immediate, lasting ceasefire. Doing nothing is complicity.

Kingston Islamic Society

The Islamic Society of Kingston is a religious organization registered in the province of Ontario, as well as with Revenue Canada, as a religious charity. It aims to serve the Muslims in Kingston and the area.

Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

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