Responding to the news that fifty Israeli hostages are coming home and 150 Palestinian women and children are being released from Israeli jails as part of a ceasefire deal between Israel’s government and Hamas, NIF International CEO Daniel Sokatch released the following statement: 

We are overjoyed to see Israelis—women, children, babies—return to the arms of their loved ones. And we pray, and continue to work, for the release of those who remain in captivity. We also breathe a sigh of relief for the cessation of violence which, for at least a few days, will provide relief and much-needed humanitarian aid to Gazans who have been suffering unimaginably in these last weeks.

But “ceasefire” does not mean peace, and this is not the end. There are still hostages being held in Gaza. And this Israeli government, while it has taken this positive step, is still the same government it was before October 7th, when hundreds of thousands of Israelis, joined by people all over the world, protested it for nearly a year. It is a government of extremists, messianists, religious fundamentalists, supremacists, and radical settlers. Its leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu, is still on trial, and an overwhelming majority of Israelis view him as responsible for the catastrophic failures that led to October 7th.

But there is a light in this darkness. Israeli civil society organizations—regular Israelis, Arab and Jews, seeking a better, shared future—are leading us towards a different path. They know that now is the time to begin the enormous work of repairing what’s been shattered. They understand that Israelis share the responsibility for enabling a horizon where tomorrow is better than today, for everyone. One where political solutions give rise to a life of safety, dignity, and equality for all who live between the river and the sea. This is who NIF, the vast majority of North American Jews, and so many Israelis, stand behind. It is who we are. And our work, truly, has never been more important.