Gigi Hadid, who is half-Palestinian and half-Dutch, has shared a statement about her heartbreak at the devastating events in Palestine and Israel this week.
The 28-year-old model took to Instagram to share her condolences for the civilian casualties of Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, as well as the Palestinian casualties of Israel’s ongoing occupation, which is illegal under international law according to a report issued by the United Nations.
“My thoughts are with all those affected by this unjustifiable tragedy, and every day that innocent lives are taken by this conflict — too many of which are children. I have deep empathy and heartbreak for the Palestinian struggle and life under occupation, it’s a responsibility I hold daily,” she wrote.
“I also feel a responsibility to my Jewish friends to make it clear, as I have before: While I have hopes and dreams for Palestinians, none of them include the harm of a Jewish person.”
Hadid then went on to assert that the events of this week should not tarnish the movement to free Palestine, which has existed for decades.
“The terrorising of innocent people is not in alignment with & does not do any good for the ‘Free Palestine’ movement,” she wrote.
“The idea that it does has fueled a painful, decades-long cycle of back and forth retaliation (which no innocent civilian, Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to be a casualty of), and helps perpetuate the false idea that being Pro-Palestine = antisemitic.”
She ended her statement with a message of love and strength for all impacted, but affirmed her belief of equal rights for every human.
“There are a lot of complex, personal, and valid feelings, but every human deserves basic rights, treatment, and security, no matter their nationality, religion, ethnicity or where they were born.”
Gigi Hadid’s statement comes days after Kylie Jenner shared an Instagram Story in support of Israel.
“Now and always, we stand with the people of Israel,” the post read. It was deleted after fans spammed comments on her previous Instagram posts in support of Palestine.
Droves of celebrities have come forward in defence of the state, including Bruno Mars, who had to cancel a concert in Israel because of the conflict. He released a statement through Live Nation Israel which said: “We stand with the residents of Israel, IDF fighters and the security forces in these difficult moments.”
Natalie Portman, who is Jewish, posted on her Instagram: “My heart is shattered for the people of Israel. I am in horror at these barbaric acts and my heart is pounding with love and prayer for the families of all affected.”
In case you haven’t been across what’s happening in Palestine and Israel, there’s a long history.
Palestine has been an illegally occupied territory, according to the UN, since it was colonised by Israel in 1948. The day of invasion, called the “Nakba” or “The Catastrophe”, saw more than half of Palestine’s population expelled from their homes and displaced to make room for Israeli settlers, per the United Nations.
Before the Nakba, Palestine was a multicultural and multi-religious state. However, after Britain facilitated mass immigration of Jews fleeing Nazism in Europe in the 1930s, the Jewish population grew to 33 per cent, per Al Jazeerah. At this time, a large majority of the land was owned by Palestinians. In 1948, the UN General Assembly decided to split Palestine into two states — one for Arabs, and one for Jews. The Arab world rejected this arguing it not only violated the UN’s own charter, but also that the land and populations would be disproportionately distributed.
After they rejected this decision, Jewish militants opened fire on Palestinian villages, forcibly displacing them. Israel proclaims this event as the founding of the modern State of Israel, and justifies this by stating Jewish people have ties to the land stretching back thousands of years.
Israel has since steadily expanded settlements into the contested land despite this being considered a violation of international law (specifically the fourth Geneva convention).
Most of what was known as Palestine has been claimed by Israel. The remaining areas are divided into two parts: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (the latter of which is where Hamas is based).
Palestinians have no military and nearly 50 per cent of the population are under 18-years-old. They have nowhere to go and cannot defend themselves, evacuate or escape when they are hit by airstrikes because of Israel and Egypt’s control of their borders. According to the World Food Programme, 1.8 million Palestinians are food insecure.
The “Free Palestine” movement calls for the freedom of Palestinians, whose movements are extremely restricted by Israeli checkpoints in what many experts have deemed an apartheid. The movement calls for the right for them to return to their ancestral lands, for them to have equal rights with Israelis, and for their right to self-determination. It closely aligns with movements of self-determination for Indigenous people right here in Australia.
Key acts of resistance by Palestinians in recent years are the Great March of Return in 2018, where civilians protested at the border of Gaza and Israel, and the Sheikh Jarrah protests in 2021. Both of these protests were largely non-violent until retaliation from Israel.
Palestinian militant group Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel on Sunday, which included the launching of somewhere between 2,500 and 5000 rockets (the numbers are disputed), was the first attack of this scale that Israel has seen from Palestine.
As of today (Wednesday), the death toll in Israel is 1,200 with more than 2,700 wounded, per Al Jazeerah, following an attack on a music festival on Saturday by Hamas fighters who opened fire on Israelis who had come together for a night of electronic music to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Reports are also emerging of a massacre at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, an Israeli community near the Gaza border.
Leaders across the globe and right here in Australia have condemned Hamas’ attack, especially the killing of civilians, which is undoubtedly a war crime.
Israel retaliated by ordering a complete blockade of Gaza, cutting off its electricity, gas, food, medicine and water supply — affecting 610,000 people, according to the UN. It has also bombed Gaza every day since the Hamas attack, with the IDF having 200 targets in just one night, per CBS News. Israel reportedly bombed 22,600 residential apartment buildings, mosques, as well as a university, seven hospitals, nine ambulances and 48 schools. The New York Times reported entire neighbourhoods were decimated.
In Palestine, as of Tuesday the death toll has been reported as 950 — 260 of which were children. However, the current death toll is unclear given the strip is still being bombed, hampering the recovery of bodies. With a telecommunications tower also bombed, communication in and out of Gaza have also been compromised.
At least 123,538 Palestinians have been displaced, per Al Jazeerah.
Australian leaders openly condemned Hamas’ killing of civilians as the war crime that it is, but have remained silent on Israel’s collective punishment of an entire ethnic group — which is also a war crime.
This article has been edited to include further context on the creation of the Israeli state.