DORMUS, Manila—Around 20 AMSA Philippines members coming from different LMOs—AMSA-UERM, AMSA-UST and ComDRS (PLM—together with AMSA Philippines Executive Board gathered last August 2 for the candlelight ceremony for peace and reconciliation between Palestine and Israel. The event started with a prayer of peace led by AMSA Philippines’ Secretary-General. A rundown of the situation as of July 31—including number of casualties in both Gaza and Israel, schools (state- and UN-owned) destroyed, and hospitals bombed—followed. The discussion, facilitated by AMSA Philippines’ National Officer for Human Rights and Peace (NORP), also included the impacts especially on health of the blockade Israel built around the Palestinian borders, and the conclusions, as well as the controversies, from the UN Fact Finding (Goldstone) Report in 2009.
An open forum came after the discussion. Participants voiced out their opinions about the conflict between the two states. It was emphasized that the oppression was disproportionate especially that more than two-thirds of Palestinian civilians were unarmed and defenseless civilians. The issue was also raised about developed nations helping smaller nations get into war with another small nation because of their hidden want and greed to control and take over the resources (for this matter, US helping Israel in its conflict between Palestine). Arms embargo was pointed out to be one of the key factors to halt the military aggression of Israel towards Gaza. The discussion ended with the reading of the draft of AMSA Philippines’ position on the conflict in Gaza. The statement was then approved by the Council of LMOs last August 5 (http://www.amsaphil.org/2014/08/amsa-philippines-statement-on-gaza.html).
Lighting of the candles followed next. The strong wind and rainy weather made it difficult to light the candles but then was managed to do so. A reflection contrasting the attempt to light the candles with the pursuit to attain peace was common among the participants—hoping that as each candle is lighted, involved parties in the conflict enkindled in them a sense of peace, accord and amity.
The participants offered a minute of silence as they pray their own intentions of peace, justice and resolution in Palestine and Israel. A short message from AMSA Philippines NORP followed, recapping what was discussed earlier on what medical students can do about the conflict. Participants attested to pray for the innocent victims of violence and for the oppression and human rights violation to end. They also affirmed to continuously make their schoolmates, friends and families aware of the situation in Gaza so as to increase the number of people praying faithfully for peace.
Before the ceremony ended, AMSA Philippines members formed the symbol of peace out of the lighted candles.