The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote


AFP via Getty Images
This picture taken on October 11, 2023 shows an aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the Jabalia camp for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City. (Photo by Yahya Hassouna/AFP via Getty Images)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Keystone School.

Content Warning: This piece contains potentially triggering descriptions of violence, including sexual violence.


I am not Palestinian or Israeli, nor Muslim or Jew. But as a fellow human, I am sickened by the suffering and loss of innocent life in the Israel-Gaza War. I am sickened for the Israelis attacked on October 7th. I am sickened for the 2.3 million Gazans suffering from Israeli attacks and humanitarian disaster every day since.

On October 7th, Hamas militants based in Gaza infiltrated the southern border of Israel, targeting Israeli civilians in terrorist attacks. Videos from this day, many captured on the body cameras of Hamas militants, are chilling. They reveal the malicious nature of the attacks: how Hamas intended to stir fear, how they indiscriminately attacked innocent Israelis, how they gruesomely killed people with no regard for their humanity. 

Innocent people were killed as they fled for their lives at a music festival, on the streets, and in bomb shelters. Hamas gunmen entered kibbutzims, small Israeli residential communities, to kill people in their homes and burn down houses. Many women were targeted with horrifying sexual violence, including gang-rape and mutilation, before being killed. 

Hamas killed 1,139 people that day. 695 were Israeli civilians, including 36 children, and 71 were foreigners. An additional 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas. These terrorist attacks were despicable and unjustifiable: innocent civilians should never be targets of war. 

It is undeniable that Israel has a right to self-defense and, thus, a right to wage a war targeting Hamas in Gaza. In an era of total warfare, civilian casualties are tragically an inevitability. Though from a moral standpoint and according to international humanitarian law, a military should do everything in its power to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas embedding military infrastructure amongst civilians in Gaza does not absolve Israel from this obligation. 

The Israeli government and military repeatedly insist they are minimizing civilian casualties, yet the monumental scale of injury and death to innocent people in Gaza speaks for itself. Since the outbreak of war on October 7th, more than 70,000 Gazans have been injured and more than 30,000 killed, an estimated 70% of which are women and children. The vast majority of these people share no responsibility for Hamas’ atrocities on October 7th; they are innocent. 

Meeting Palestinian teens at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Dallas this past May, I remember being immediately struck by their overwhelming generosity and optimism. They dream ambitiously to change the world for the better. They have high career aspirations. They care deeply about people, those they know and strangers like me. They want to have fun with friends and return to the comfort of their home to eat dinner with family. These are dreams shared by more than a million Gazan children, dreams shattered by the horrific state of war.

Since October 7th, more than 10,000 Gazan children have been killed and an additional 17,000 are left without any family. Each of them, I imagine, contained the same optimism and infectious joy as the bright-eyed Palestinians I met in Dallas. How can I convey the magnitude of such loss through writing? The wails of one mother, whose child was brutally killed by Israeli bombs or crushed under the rubble of flattened buildings, is intolerable. 10,000 killed children simply surpasses our capacity for comprehension. They have no blame. They pose no threat. 

Gazans listen in terror to the sounds of Israeli bombs, not knowing if this time their family will be among those decimated. Since October 7th, Israel has dropped more than 29,000 air-to-ground munitions on the 25-mile long Gaza Strip. 40-45% of these munitions were unguided, making them less precise at hitting targets. In urban areas like Gaza City, where the population is denser than New York City, this margin of error can be the difference between destroying legitimate military targets and wiping out innocent families. Additionally, U.S. intelligence found that the Israeli military has bombed indiscriminately, which means bombing without a military target, a practice critically endangering civilians. 

Nowhere in Gaza is safe. Israeli bombing has destroyed universities, hospitals, stores, farmland, mosques, churches, schools, and entire residential buildings. More than 60% of homes have been destroyed. 1.9 million civilians, 85% of Gaza’s population, have already been displaced. 

Such bombing has caused unimaginable human suffering—more than 100,000 Gazans have been wounded or killed. This cannot conceivably be the best effort of one of the world’s most advanced militaries to minimize civilian casualties. Israel’s military places full blame on Hamas for embedding militants in civilian infrastructure. Yet, they continue using the same bombardment tactics that they know will cause immense civilian casualties. 

A notable example is the Israeli airstrikes on the urban refugee camp of Jabalia on October 31st. In an attempt to kill a Hamas commander, purportedly located in underground tunnels, the Israeli Air Force dropped at least two 2,000 pound bombs, capable of flattening entire buildings, on the densely-crowded camp. 195 people were killed, 777 people were injured, and more than 120 people were missing below the rubble, many of whom were children

Israel’s conduct in war is completely disproportionate: Hamas killed 1,139 people on October 7th, while Israel has killed more than 25 times that number of people. The life of a Gazan is just as sacrosanct as the life of an Israeli. Hamas killing innocent civilians, women, and children is categorically wrong. Israel killing innocent civilians, women, and children is just as wrong—except Israel is committing this wrong on a scale magnitudes greater. 

On top of the immense destruction caused by bombardment, the Israeli government has created a catastrophic humanitarian disaster in Gaza. On October 9th, the government ordered a “complete siege,” cutting Gaza off from life-sustaining resources of electricity, fuel, water, food, and medical supplies it heavily imports. 

Within days, fuel shortages shutdown Gaza’s sole power plant, leaving many in communication blackouts. The local water system collapsed as the Israeli government shut down pipelines supplying water, while desalination and wastewater facilities became inoperable without fuel and electricity. 

Taps run dry without fuel to pump water. Many people are forced to drink what is essentially seawater contaminated with sewage. The average Gazan is living off 3 liters of water per day when the international humanitarian standard for emergencies is 15 liters per person. Lack of clean water drives poor sanitation, fueling outbreaks of gastrointestinal, skin, and respiratory diseases. Diarrhea incidence alone has risen 2,000% amongst kids under age 5.

According to UN human rights experts, the Israeli government is also weaponizing food, creating a man-made famine that continues to worsen. The Israeli siege cut off critical access to imported food, while the military cut off access to farmland and the sea, razed more than 20% of agricultural land, and destroyed over 70% of Gaza’s fishing fleet. The entire Gazan population, more than 2 million people, faces acute food shortage. At least 500,000 Gazans are in famine, and all 335,000 children under 5 are at high risk of malnutrition. Families are barely clinging to life with one meal a day. Children are “screaming all day from hunger.” 

As Gaza is starving to death, Israel continues its siege and severely restricts humanitarian aid trucks from entering. In January, the Israeli military denied 56% of aid missions to northern Gaza, where starvation is so extreme that some people have resorted to grinding animal feed into flour. UN food aid has not reached there in over a month. On February 5, the Israeli military fired on a UN convoy set to deliver food to northern Gaza, despite the UN coordinating its safe route beforehand with the Israeli military. Even though the situation is rapidly deteriorating, Gaza received 50% less humanitarian aid in February compared to January. In the past two weeks, an average of 62 aid trucks entered Gaza each day when before October 7th, 500 aid trucks entered Gaza each day. 

Sieging resources essential to life and restricting humanitarian aid deliberately inflicts dehydration, starvation, and disease on innocent babies, children, mothers, and fathers fighting to simply survive. These actions do not attack Hamas; they attack the civilian population. 

If Israel’s government genuinely wanted to reduce civilian harm, it would lift its siege on desperately needed food, water, electricity, and medical supplies. If Israel’s government genuinely wanted to reduce civilian harm, it would allow unfettered access to humanitarian aid instead of denying it. To be clear, this is collective punishment

For these reasons—

for the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, 

for the horrifyingly high civilian death toll, 

for the catastrophic humanitarian disaster worsening by the second—

I call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

Under a ceasefire, Hamas could release Israeli hostages to be safely reunited with their families, and more than 2 million Gazans could receive the critical humanitarian aid they desperately need to survive. A ceasefire is by no means a long-term solution; it will merely prevent the worsening of a grave humanitarian crisis. 

As Americans, we have a stronger moral obligation than most to stand up against the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. Thousands of children in Gaza are being killed by weapons made in our country. Our government continues to supply billions of dollars in military spending to Israel. Our country was the sole country to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. We must speak up. 

The punishment and killing of innocent people must end. For the sake of innocent people in Gaza and for the sake of humanity,



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About the Contributor
Niraj Srivastava
Niraj Srivastava, Editor-in-Chief
Niraj is a current Senior at Keystone who is interested in spreading awareness about health issues and inequality through his writing. He is fascinated with the field of biology and plans to work in the medical field. He also loves to travel and experience different cultures.

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