This picture taken in Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the distance following Israeli bombardment on the southern Gaza Strip on February 14, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. LEHTIKUVA / AFP


Leaders from three Finnish youth political organizations, the Social Democratic Youth (Demarinuoret), Centre Party Youth (Keskustanuoret), and the Swedish People's Party Youth (RKP-nuoret), are urging Finland's government to take a more active role in addressing the ongoing crisis in Gaza. They demand strong international intervention and a permanent ceasefire to prevent what they describe as potentially one of the darkest moments in human history.

Gaza has been experiencing a significant real-time tragedy over the past few months, with the area, roughly the size of Espoo, under severe bombardment. According to reports (YLE, January 22), the death toll has already surpassed 20,000, including 9,600 children and young people. With Israeli ground forces planning an operation in Rafah, where an estimated 1.5 million civilians are trapped, the urgency for a resolution has never been more critical.

"The war began with a series of Hamas terror attacks on Israel. While it's true that a sovereign state has the right to defend its sovereignty, Israel's use of force has long exceeded the bounds of self-defense, resulting in outright slaughter," says Jere Tapio, Chair of Keskustanuoret.

The leaders emphasize the necessity for the international community to step in, demand a lasting ceasefire, and halt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's actions. They call for a concrete vision for a two-state solution and the neutralization of Hamas's influence in the region.

"Although the EU and the US have expressed support for the two-state solution, the rocky path to peace is not paved with words alone but actions. This situation demands that rhetoric leads to political will. Western nations must act credibly – it's not only about saving a vast number of lives but also about the credibility of the entire international rule-based system," urges Emilia Kangaskolkka, Chair of Demarinuoret.

The youth leaders also express frustration with the domestic political discourse in Finland, which has focused more on internal positioning rather than the tragedy in Gaza. They call on Finland's foreign policy leaders to take responsibility.

"The lack of foreign policy leadership has allowed for polarized discussions within Finland. Simple domestic quarreling will not help improve the situation in Gaza. We are particularly perplexed by the invisibility of the Orpo-Purra administration. However, there's still time to step forward and rectify the situation," the leaders state.

They remind the Finnish government that the atmosphere in Gaza is far from the spirit of Valentine's Day, highlighting the urgency and gravity of the crisis.