Navigating the War on Gaza: Long Summary

War Prevention Initiative, November 2023

The surge in violence in Israel and Palestine has deeply unsettled and horrified us. In moments of acute crisis, it is difficult to meaningfully respond in a way that rejects a militarized approach and affirms the dignity and humanity of those most affected by violence.  

The context of this briefing is war. Hamas’ killing of about 1,200 [1] mainly Israeli citizens and abduction of about 200 Israeli and foreign civilians re-affirms deep-seated existential fears and ancestral trauma of centuries of oppression, genocide, and violence against Jewish people. The continued firing of rockets by militants into Israel and the holding of hostages are war crimes committed by Hamas [2]. At the same time, Israel’s government has responded with indiscriminate bombing and a ground invasion, which have killed a reported 14,800 [3] Palestinian civilians so far, as well as a deliberate blockade of essential resources such as food, water, electricity, medicine, fuel, and communication services to civilians in Gaza. These actions, constituting war crimes, along with dehumanizing statements by Israeli government officials, compel us to take seriously the warnings issued by UN officials, legal advocacy groups, and scholars in international law, genocide studies, and conflict studies of the imminent threat of genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people [4][5]. We fear that the current conflict trajectory in Palestine and Israel has set back efforts for long-lasting peace by generations.   


As we are writing this briefing, there needs to be an extension to the pause recently negotiated to permit the release of hostages and prisoners and begin negotiations leading to a permanent ceasefire. The latter, the return of all hostages, and rapid delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza are the only conditions by which negotiations for immediate de-escalation and long-term peace can be pursued. Achieving a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict requires a structural transformation in the relationship between Israel and Palestine. This transformation demands political leadership that is responsive to the genuine needs of all people. It should organically develop from the grassroots, amplifying the voices of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders dedicated to coexistence, justice, dignity, and freedom for all. 


U.S.-based peace organizations are well-positioned to advocate for a peaceful and demilitarized approach. The U.S. contributes billions in weapons shipments [6]—direct weapons sales and missile defense—to Israel every year. The unquestioned sending of weapons of war is a failed strategy that does not make Israel more secure and that upholds conditions of occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. We believe that sharing information and recommendations to our community of practice will contribute to meaningful knowledge and action by our U.S.-based partners toward a more peaceful Israel and Palestine. 


In a forthcoming briefing, we identify six core problems with the ongoing discourse on Israel and Palestine—decontextualization, dehumanization, absolutist language, militarized security, binary thinking, and Orientalism—and recommendations on how U.S.-based peace organizations can remediate these problems. The recommendations from this briefing are intended for the broader peace and security community in the U.S. to advocate for a peaceful and demilitarized solution to the war on Gaza. These recommendations may also be helpful for other conflict contexts or networks and organizations not identifying as peace and security stakeholders. 


This briefing is intended for the broader peace and security community in the U.S. to advocate for a peaceful and non-militarized solution to the war on Gaza. These recommendations may also be helpful for other conflict contexts or networks and organizations not identifying as peace and security stakeholders.   


1. Information sharing and advocacy: Use the information and framing to inform your community, stakeholders, and audiences about the nuances of the war on Gaza. Use these insights to drive informed discussions regarding peace and security in Israel-Palestine.

a) Incorporate nuanced language: Encourage precise wording and avoid absolutist and biased statements in discussions and publications to allow nuanced perspectives and informed analysis. 

b) Reject oversimplified narratives: Advocate against the oversimplification of the conflict and promote balanced understanding that acknowledges the complex historical and social elements involved. 

c) Support peace journalism: Promote media sources focusing on structural causes and inclusive voices, encouraging a deeper understanding of the conflict beyond mainstream narratives. 

2. Guidance for decision-making: Use the recommendations to evaluate and support initiatives, policies, and strategies related to peacebuilding efforts in the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

a) Call for an immediate ceasefire: Call for the cessation of violence to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved parties. 

b) Challenge militarized approaches: Advocate for an alternative concept of security, focusing on non-militarized approaches to peace and security in the region. 

c) Program Development: Tailor peace and security programs that address dehumanization, contextual understanding, and promotion of peacebuilding [7]. 

3. Networking and collaboration: Engage with other organizations to develop collaborative approaches and initiatives that align with the recommendations mentioned in this briefing. 

a) Engage with diverse perspectives: Encourage engagement with historically excluded voices and narratives, which can provide nuanced and lived experiences that enrich the understanding of the conflict. 

4. Advocacy: Support peacebuilding approaches that address immediate and structural violence. Encourage your network to take action in this regard.  

a) Advocacy efforts: Advocate for policy changes that reject the failed status quo and instead call for humanitarian aid and an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, considering the complex context and multifaceted narratives in the conflict. 

b) Advocacy against dehumanization: Take a stance against dehumanizing language and narratives, particularly those that perpetuate violence and oppression against any party in the conflict. 

c) Domestic advocacy: Advocate for policies and programs that combat antisemitism and Islamophobia carried into the U.S. context by the Israel-Palestine conflict.  

5. Promote contextual understanding: Emphasize the importance of understanding the historical, social, and political context that shapes the conflict to your community, stakeholders, and audiences. Use this understanding to create more informed and nuanced narratives, programs, and policies.  



[1] Boxerman, A. (2023, November 12). What We Know About the Death Toll in Israel From the Hamas-Led Attacks. The New York Times

[2] See: International Committee of the Red Cross. (2010, October 29). The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols

[3] This number is an unverified account by Gaza’s Government Media Office government and used by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( The Health Ministry in Gaza tracked casualties until November 10, 2023. Because of the breakdown in communication and disruption to the internet, the Health Ministry can no longer track the casualties. Last official data at: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs—Occupied Palestinian territory | Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel—Reported impact | Day 35. (2023, November 10). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Occupied Palestinian Territory.

[4] See: Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide. (n.d.). Center for Constitutional Rights. Retrieved November 15, 2023, from Statement: Scholars Warn of Potential Genocide in Gaza. (2023, October 15). Third World Approaches to International Law Review.étrault-Farber, G., & Farge, E. (2023, November 3). UN experts say ceasefire needed as Palestinians at “grave risk of genocide.” Reuters expert warns of new instance of mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, calls for immediate ceasefire. (n.d.). United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved November 15, 2023, from

[5] It is important to note that ethnic cleansing and genocide often takes place in times of war or violent conflict where “both sides” engage in violence against the other (for example, the Rwandan genocide took place during the Rwandan civil war). Hamas’ indiscriminate violence does not justify Israel’s indiscriminate violence against all Palestinians in Gaza.

[6] AJLabs. (2023, October 11). How big is Israel’s military and how much funding does it get from the US? Al Jazeera.

[7] Avoiding biased statements should not prevent us from supporting the humanity on both sides and demand justice in a context of oppression and occupation.