Steve Coogan has defended his decision to sign an open letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza amid the current Israel-Hamas conflict, while also condemning the “horrific” Hamas attacks.
The letter condemns various governments for “not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them” amid the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as well as “every act of violence against civilians and every infringement of international law whoever perpetrates them”.
Citing Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant’s depiction of Palestinians as “human animals”, the letter goes on to argue that Palestinians “have become people to whom almost anything can be done”.
However, some have criticised the letter for not openly condemning the actions of Hamas, who reignited tensions between Israel and Palestine when it launched its biggest ever attack on Israel on October 7, killing over 1,000 people.
In response, Israel imposed a “total siege” on Gaza, threatening to cut off electricity, fuel and supplies of food and water. Over a million people have been forced to flee their homes in the Gaza Strip as a result, and rights groups have cautioned that this could be classified as a war crime if carried out.
Now, Coogan has released a statement to the PA news agency in which he condemned the Hamas attacks. “I just want to make sure that is correct, and I do of course condemn the recent Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel; their deliberate murder of civilians and their taking of hostages. All right thinking people do,” he said [via The Independent].
“The Jewish people have been uniquely the target of hate and prejudice for millennia and anyone who cares about human rights should be vigilant and call it out when they encounter it. It goes without saying that what Hamas did is evil beyond imagination. It was horrific and brutal.
“It is in no way inconsistent with condemnation of the Hamas atrocity, to express grave concern for the lives and welfare of innocent Palestinian civilians facing a humanitarian disaster, deprived of food, water, medicine, fuel and shelter.”
Coogan is one of many names to speak out about the conflict. Madonna addressed the situation on stage at The O2 earlier this week, expressing her exasperation at how human beings are capable of “being so cruel to one another”.
The artist urged the crowd to “remember we are human beings here” because “we cannot lose our humanity” and to make a difference by bringing “light into the world”.
Meanwhile, Tom Morello called for the condemnation of harm to all children “no matter who they are” and Gigi Hadid, who is of Palestinian descent, shared a graphic to her Instagram Story last week, which read: “There is nothing Jewish about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Condemning the Israeli government is not antisemitic and supporting Palestinians is not supporting Hamas.”
Riz Ahmed, meanwhile, wrote a lengthy post condemning the “horrific and wrong” conflict “We are told that 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.”
According to the Palestinian health ministry, 4,621 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7 [via BBC].