October 12th, 2023
Dear Cornell Law School,
On October 7th, 2023, Hamas launched a multi-front attack against Israel; one of its targets was the Supernova Music Festival, attended by some 3,500 young people. Hamas continued on a devastating path into cities and military targets, killing 1,200 Israelis while assaulting and abducting many more. We grieve for the civilians who have been killed, and we hope that those who remain as hostages will be swiftly and safely released. We mourn with the Jewish community worldwide after witnessing the unconscionable loss of Jewish life. We condemn without reservation the killing and brutalization of civilian noncombatants, including Hamas’s attacks on and continued detention of civilians in Gaza.
We equally condemn without reservation Israeli airstrikes on Gaza that have, in just two days, killed 1,100 Palestinians “including hundreds of children, women, and entire families.” We condemn the statements of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who claimed Israel was “fighting human animals” and, “act[ing] accordingly,” ordered electricity, fuel, and water cut off to 2 million Palestinians––over 45% of whom are under the age of fifteen––in violation of international humanitarian law. We condemn Israel’s aggravation of the decades-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, a “suffocating” humanitarian crisis where Gazan Palestinians struggle in inhuman poverty with largely undrinkable water and in overwhelming reliance on international humanitarian aid. And we condemn the brutal murders of thirty-four children, in this year alone, at the hands of Israeli forces. While none of these events have garnered the attention of domestic commentators or institutions, they are certainly no less tragic and no less worthy of our criticism.
These and other events compel us to mourn, and stand with, the dispossessed Palestinian civilians who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and lives to occupation and indiscriminate reprisal. It is precisely because we unequivocally condemn the loss of civilian life that we write this statement. The brutality of the past few days only adds to the long history of casualties resulting from the conflict––over 1,000 Palestinians and over 400 Israelis were killed in 2002; 6,407 Palestinians and 308 Israelis in 2014; and 319 Palestinians (including 71 minors) and 9 Israelis in 2021. We mourn those Palestinian noncombatants who have died and are currently dying in Gaza and the West Bank, and treat these deaths with the respect and remembrance they deserve.
Violence only serves to perpetuate a cycle of reprisal, revenge, and hatred. The events of the past few days are nothing short of tragic, but more violence––indiscriminately and against civilians––will not bring a lasting or meaningful peace. We urge our colleagues to treat all loss of civilian life as equally devastating, regardless of who fires the shot.
National Lawyers’ Guild, Cornell Law School Chapter