Palestinian, Israeli in Japan call for end to conflict

A Palestinian and an Israeli living in Japan said they are hoping for a peaceful end to conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas.

Mohammed Farajallah, a 27-year-old Palestinian, came to Japan eight years ago after living in the Gaza Strip as a child. He now works as a computer engineer.

He said more than 100 of his relatives live in Gaza, but 16 of them, including young ones, had died in the conflict, and that most of their houses have been destroyed.

Farajallah said he had grieved and cried for the first or two weeks after the tragedy. But he said he has recently become apathetic as he feels nothing when he watches news about children killed and houses bombed in Gaza.

Farajallah said he thinks the Palestinians are all feeling the same way, being too confused to express themselves.

He said he feels resentment toward Israel as its military continues assault on Gaza, but he wonders why the United States and European countries support Israel while the international community is against the conflict.

As calls for an immediate ceasefire are spreading around the world, Farajallah said what an individual can do may be small, but if people act together, they can change the world.

He added all he wants now is that a hellish situation in Gaza will end as soon as possible, the next day, or the next hour.

Dani Nefushtai, a 66-year-old Israeli furniture builder, lives in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo.

Nefushtai was conscripted at the age of 18 and served in Israel's Air Force for three years.

He said many Israelis who have experienced the Holocaust and have been taught to protect themselves believe that they must control the Palestinians by force.

At the same time, Nefushtai said he can understand why the Palestinians are opposed, as the Palestinian territory has been occupied by Israel for 56 years since the 1967 Middle East War.

He said when he was in Israel, he believed that the country should protect itself by force. But he gradually changed his attitude when he started living in Japan after marriage about 40 years ago.

In 2008, Israeli launched a large-scale military offensive in Gaza, leaving many civilians, including children, dead.

Nefushtai said he could no longer accept the belief that children becoming victims of conflict is inevitable for a country to protect itself. He came to think his country's education system is distorted.

He said peace cannot be kept by force, and what is needed is to build good relations with neighboring countries.

Since October, Nefushtai has posted on social media that Israel should stop attacks on Gaza and seek a diplomatic solution. He said he has received criticisms from his Israeli friends.

Nefushtai said people outside Israel can see the situation objectively, but those inside are dominated by fear of war and terror attacks.

He noted that people around the world are voicing opposition to Israel. He said sending out messages from outside is important, and called for people in Japan to raise their voices as well.