Riz Ahmed accuses Israel of ‘morally indefensible war crimes’ against Palestinians amid Israel-Hamas war

Ahmed, 40, urged people to ‘speak up...if we are on the side of humanity’ in a statement shared on social media

Maanya Sachdeva
Monday 16 October 2023 15:14 BST
Palestinian prime minister appeals to Israel's Netanyahu: 'We are not animals'

Oscar winner Riz Ahmed has accused Israel of “morally indefensible war crimes” against Gaza in the wake of last week’s terror attack by Hamas.

The actor and musician, 40, called for an “end to the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza’s civilians and vital infrastructure” after Israel declared war against Hamas and began rolling airstrikes on the strip.

The Israeli military on Monday (16 October) confirmed the number of people killed in the attack now stands at over 1,400 people. Israel has retaliated with airstrikes on the Gaza strip, killing more than 2,750 Palestinians since the the start of the escalation, according to an update from Palestine’s health ministry on Sunday (15 October).

Israel also blocked supplies of food, water, electricity, and fuel to the strip, before ordering 1.1 million Gazans in the north to evacuate to the south as it prepares to launch a ground invasion. United Nations officials have warned the evacuation would trigger a “bone-chilling” humanitarian crisis, adding that Gaza “is on the brink of collapse”.

In a statement shared on X, formerly Twitter, Ahmed wrote: “We are told there are two sides to what is happening in Israel and Palestine. But in my heart, I know there is only one – the side of our humanity.

“What happened in Israel last week was horrific and wrong. The pain and fear so many are feeling is deep and real. What’s happening in Gaza now, and has been happening in Palestine under the Occupation for decades, is horrific and wrong. The depth and reality of this suffering cannot be ignored,” he continued.

“If we look only in one direction, we will go even deeper into darkness,” he wrote. “But that is exactly what is happening right now. We are being asked to look away while the civilians of Gaza, half of them children, are running out of time.

Ahmed urged people around the world to speak up “if we are on the side of humanity” as he called for an end to the airstrikes in Gaza, adding that “staying silent is not an option”.

“If we are on the side of humanity we must urgently speak up to try and avert the loss of innocent life,” he said. “This means calling for an end to the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza’s civilians and vital infrastructure, the denial of food, water and electricity, the forced displacement of people from their homes.

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“These are morally indefensible war crimes.”

Last week, over 700 Hollywood figures including Gal Gadot, Mark Hamill, Chris Pine, Amy Schumer, Jerry Seinfeld, and Mayim Bialik signed an open letter expressing solidarity with Israel amid its ongoing war against Hamas.

The “first of its kind” letter was released by Creative Community For Peace, a non-profit entertainment industry organisation, on 12 October.

In the letter, CCF called on “our friends and colleagues... to speak out forcefully against Hamas” and urged the safe return of more than 150 civilians being held hostage by the militant group.

UN secretary general António Guterres on Sunday issued two humanitarian appeals “as we are on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East” on Sunday night.

He called on Hamas to immediately release all hostages “without condition” and urged Israel to allow “rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid” to the people of Gaza.

Ahmed has long maintained a political edge to his work. Prior to achieving critical and commerical success in Hollywood, he released a number of tracks under the rap moniker Riz MC including Post 9/11 Blues and Sour Times.

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