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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Army veterans like me know that 'war is hell.' We must push for a cease-fire in Gaza.

I'm an Army veteran who served as an Arab linguist. As the Israel-Hamas war continues, a cease-fire in Gaza is the only sensible way forward.

Derek Duba
Opinion contributor

I am a U.S. Army veteran who served as an Arabic linguist and military intelligence collector.

Veterans like me around the country are raising our voices to put an end to the open-ended, unsustainable, immoral conflicts we’ve come to know as the “forever wars.” 

Knowing all too well that ever-escalating violence can only beget more violence, I join the overwhelming majority of Americans demanding a cease-fire now in Gaza.

For those who haven’t spent their careers immersed in the conflict, history and politics of the Middle East, it’s important to understand that Gaza is only about twice the size of Washington, D.C., but with nearly triple the population.

It has been shelled daily for more than a month now using munitions supplied by U.S. government and defense contractors with the implicit consent of an administration and Congress that have thus failed to de-escalate the situation and instead moved to censure critics and approve additional funds for weapons and bombs.  

People search through buildings, destroyed during Israeli raids a day earlier, in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 17, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

War crimes do not justify more war crimes

Indiscriminate bombing can only serve to prolong and escalate this conflict, which is already growing into a regional crisis that threatens to drag the United States into yet another disastrous war in the Middle East.  

The despicable acts of violence carried out by Hamas against more than a thousand Israeli civilians was horrific, period.

Nevertheless, war crimes and acts of terror do not justify more war crimes nor the killing of more civilians.

I asked President Biden for cease-fire.Now the world is asking with me.

The surest way to safely return hostages is to end the bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza to negotiate the release of hostages; those hostages are every bit as endangered by these indiscriminate attacks as the countless innocent Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 20: The parents and relatives of children kidnapped on October 7th take part in a demonstration outside the UNICEF headquarters to protest their silence to 40 children held hostage in Gaza on World’s Children Day.

When I imagine what it must be like to be a human being trapped in a city that is walled on all sides, that is bombed nightly – that has less and less access to water, power, food and medical care – the geopolitical and economic nuance and history of the situation wilts in comparison with the immediate humanity of parents terrified they’ll be the ones pulling their kids from rubble each morning.

That we can only begin to mourn those senselessly lost human lives already is reason enough to demand a cease-fire now. 

A man carries a child injured in an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Recognize humanity in Israel and Palestine

We’ve seen bad actors in our political system and media exploit these horrors to drive clicks by selling us the idea that somehow a cease-fire is akin to supporting a terrorist group.

I refuse to play into the false narrative that recognizing and fighting for the humanity of either Palestinians or Israelis means refusing the humanity of the other. 

Israelis are humans, Palestinians are humans and no human deserves to live and die like this.

To those at home trying to make sense of the senseless all the way up to the White House, there is no path forward that is easy.:

  • It is not easy to disagree with your friends.
  • It is not easy to break with your party.
  • It is not easy to live with hate in your heart or to let it go.

It will not be easy to plant seeds of peace between people who have now known only conflict for generations, but no matter which of the thousand ways we can get there, not one of them will begin until the last bomb is dropped. 

We need a cease-fire, not a 'forever war'

No revenge, no ideology, no difference of faith or opinion can justify a new “forever war” in the Middle East.

Biden, US risk 'forever war':Biden's support of Israel makes US an accessory to apartheid. And risks another 'forever war.'

If you want to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans, I invite you to trust what too many of us have been forced to learn the hard way: War is hell. Peace and justice cannot be achieved by means that are not peaceful and just.

We must remember our shared humanity and do everything we can to end this cycle of violence and work collectively toward a lasting peace before more innocent blood is spilled.

I join with all who have found the courage and moral fortitude to elevate this demand for a cease-fire to the administration.

Derek Duba is the U.S. Western lead organizer for, a national grassroots organization of veterans.

Derek Duba is the U.S. Western lead organizer for, a national grassroots organization of veterans. He lives in Phoenix. This column first published in The Arizona Republic. Reach him at

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