Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Gaza … I Believe the Child

A 27-second video of a Palestinian child went viral on social media as soon as the four-day ceasefire in Gaza was declared.

The child declared spontaneously and with complete joy that the “world is nice like this. Everyone listen, there’s no sound of planes. Can you hear?” He says so even though the majority of those killed in the barbaric war are children.

“Everyone, the ceasefire has happened. I swear, I was filled with joy as soon as I learned about the ceasefire,” he added. With some sadness, however, he recalled that the truce was only set to last four days.

“Dear God, I hope that with the truce, everything will be solved and that it would become a permanent ceasefire,” he continued. He then says a statement that should speak to the conscience of any person: “By God the world is nice like this, without the sound of drones. Everybody, I am very happy... very happy.”

I believe this child more than I believe the warmongers and the destruction. This is the natural voice of humanity. No one wants wars. They are not the answer. What is happening in our region and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are nothing but reckless wars and mass suicide.

Now, we must listen to the real voices of the people of Gaza, not the warmongers or those who are addicted to populist slogans in the region. We must listen to the voices of the real people, not the masked gunmen or Israeli extremists.

So now, the goal mustn’t be a days- or years-long truce, but we must pursue peace and the two-state solution and end this bloody destructive conflict. We must stand against warmongers and others who are exploiting the Palestinian cause, starting with Iran. We must stand against the extremists in Israel, starting with Benjamin Netanyahu.

In spite of all the tragedies, I believe the region is ready for peace. Rather, it has demanded it and still demands it. The moderate countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan – have said it. The Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh demanded it in its closing statement, which was also signed by Iran.

US President Joe Biden spoke of it just days ago. So have the Europeans. Some are even seeking the recognition of Palestine as an independent state. This is a path that should continue, along with the peace process. The people of Gaza are also ready for peace.

That is why I believe this child more than I do Ismail Hanieh, who after his escalatory speeches and declaring gratitude to the October 7 operation said he wants a ceasefire and implementation of the two-state solution. I believe this child more than Hanieh because the former lives in Gaza, while the latter lives in Doha.

The price of killing nearly 15,000 people in Gaza, the majority women and children, should not be a mere days-long ceasefire. It should be a starting point for the launch of the political process that should lead to the two-state solution and declaration of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

It is time to offer an unprecedented initiative according to a specific timeframe to reach the two-state solution. Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, the United States and Europe must be involved in the process.

In sum, it is time for peace and to stand in the way of all extremists and warmongers and those who exploit mediations.