Open letter from psychologists calling for an end to the violence against the Palestinian people

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We call on all people, the international community, especially mental health professionals, to work towards a non-violent and definitive solution to the ongoing conflict, to take concrete actions for an immediate ceasefire in the area, and for the ending of the brutal colonialism in place. We also emphasize the importance of opening the borders to humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.

In these last days, Israel’s brutal and cruel bombing in the Gaza Strip – a territory that has been besieged by Israel for the last 17 years – has resulted in  the deaths of more than 8,000 Palestinian (including more than 3,400 children), and more than 20,000 injured people. Alongside, millions of people have been forcibly displaced and deprived of basic needs (PRCS, 2023)[1].

However, the figures fail to represent the current reality, as the death toll and injuries rise second by second.Israeli air strikes destroyed more than half of Palestinian residences, besides deliberate attacks on hospitals, schools and universities, erupting a massive humanitarian crisis.

We also condemn and deplore the violence against Israeli civilians, victims of Hamas’ violent retaliation, especially because it has affected innocent people, many of whom are still kidnapped.

Recent statements released by an official representative of the Israeli governmentrefered to Palestinian people as “human animals”[2]. Accordingly, the entire Gaza population  be held like hostages, through a complete blockade of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicines. Israel very recently blocked access to internet signals, isolating Gaza from the rest of world. (MSF, 2023)[3]

The collective punishing of innocent people constitutes a war crime and, hence, must be strongly condemned. (ICRC, 2022).[4] We consider that Israeli government pronouncements have amplified the racist ideology, relying on international impunity and compliance. Xenophobia reinforcement turns migrants, refugees and stateless people – not just Palestinians – the main victims of the dehumanising discourse.

It’s crucial to keep an eye on what’s going on in Gaza: 2.2 million people – most of whom were already displaced migrants from historic Palestinian territories irregularly occupied by Israel – have been living in an open-air prison for 17 years[5]. Israel determines what comes in and out of Gaza: people, energy, food, medicine, fuel and humanitarian aid. Whole families have their homes destroyed by bombings, children are born and die surrounded by walls, and their national identity and existence as a people have been denied for decades.

The systematic ethnic cleansing of a walls-confined population living under a military siege by air, land and sea is undoubtedly a horrendous crime.. The colonial measure imposed on this population, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank and other parts of historic Palestine, has already produced 6.1 million Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, 2023)[6].

While witnessing the unacceptable thousands of deaths, we note with concern the harassment and attempt to silence supports of Palestinian rights. Under any circumstance, it should be acceptable to persecute those who denounce the existence of stateless people living in apartheid conditions.

These claims are incontestable. The UN Human Rights Council 2022[7] presented a report pointing out 3 essential elements: Palestine is strictly an open-air prison, the largest prison in the world; there is an apartheid regime throughout Palestine; and some aspects of everyday life in Gaza share similarities to a concentration camp. None of this began on the 7th of October 2023. There is nothing new except for the intensification of war propaganda against the Palestinian people. That can be named as Media Genocide, which is the intentional elimination of a people through war propaganda and, the circulation of false news and narratives.

The Palestinian struggle is also a struggle to be waged in Brazil.. We perceive the Palestinian tragedy as deeply connected to the war against the poor, Black people and traditional communities in our country. The same logic of racial and ethnic supremacy relies on Brazilian whiteness, which justifies police incursions into favelas systematically murdering Black people including children, teenagers and young people. It is important to emphasise that there are numerous agreements between the Brazilian security forces and the Israeli armed forces, with Brazil being one of the biggest markets of Israel’s arms industry[8]. Israeli ammunition finds Black and peripheral Brazilian bodies.

The supremacist rhetoric of brutalisation and dehumanisation has historically been denounced by the Black movement in Brazil, for example in the context of the former South African apartheid regime and also in international solidarity actions for the Palestinian people. Black liberation movements have also experienced the ideological condemnation of their freedom efforts, which were labelled under the rubric of “terrorists”. The dehumanisation of Black people is also the dehumanisation of the Arab people, a violence consolidated by the whiteness global alliance and its genocide and ethnocide practice.


We, as psychologists committed to every human life’s dignity, guided by the Fundamental Principles of our Ethic Code, urge for a radical commitment to the anti-racist and anti-genocide struggle, which is connected to the ethical and political duty of psychology.

We call on our professional category and psychology students to bravely tackle this issue affecting the whole world. A call to fulfill  our ethical duty to uphold human dignity, by keeping a critical distance from war propaganda and demanding humane and dignified relations throughout all the ongoing situations.

Almost every child or teenager in Gaza has been born in a state of segregation, a situation that combined with constant attacks, and the side effects of the siege and occupation has been triggering severe psychological distress and psychiatric disorders[9]. The colonial and apartheid regime imposed on Palestinians, described in six reports released by United Nations and recognised by several humanitarian organizations, including Amnesty International,  are social determinants of mental health deterioration.[10].

Therefore, a historical analysis of the Israeli occupation in Palestine, the Nakba effects and the 1948 catastrophe is essential. Psychology, as a science and a profession, must reject superficial or improper analyses in this sense. We criticize institutions and associations in the mental health field whose statements endorse the dehumanising rhetoric worldwide spread. For instance, the APA declaration[11] neglected the Palestinian historical context, disregardingthe violence imposed on the besieged Gaza population. There is no mention of the terrible bombing of the small enclave [a territory or part of a territory surrounded by another state] affecting Palestinians in an incomparable way to Israelis. We consider that these statements[12] ignore contingencies such as precarious mental health, besides amplifying the collective trauma resulting from decades of oppression, continuous violence, humiliation and injustice inflicted by Israel’s occupation.

Politics and mental health cannot be dichotomised. One cannot analyse the occupation of Palestine without examining the strategies of dehumanisation, and the stripping of dignity and life of the Palestinian people.

The dehumanisation of Palestinian lives – whether in deeds or speeches – normalises Palestinian suffering, as if it was natural, obvious and impossible to stop. Palestinians have been vocalising their suffering for decades and pleading for visibility to the international community. They do so in countless non-violent ways: resisting every minute, every second, to avoid disappearing. They produce art, music, and poetry. They cultivate and care for their original land and territory.

Until we see a Palestine free of Israeli colonial domination, no number of bombs will extinguish the innate desire to live with dignity. In this way, the Palestinian resistance is incurable, quoting Mahmoud Darwish.

As psychologists, we understand and accept the historic call to stand alongside the Palestinian people. The complicity with mass genocide, ethnic cleansing and the murder of children in particular, shall not be in our name.

We condemn the system of segregation, discrimination and collective punishment imposed on Palestine. There is an urgent need to build peace, which only comes through the consolidation of the Palestinian State and establishing a regime that respects the universal rights of all those who live in the region.

The Palestinian people – like all people in their self-determination – need to be able to exist beyond the imposed walls, the barbed wires, the refugee camps and all the dehumanisation: they need to be able to make their contribution to the beautiful story, yet to be built, of collective emancipation and the development of the humankind.

The PSIMIGRA Collective


ICRC (2022) O que é o direito internacional humanitário. Disponível em:

MSF (2023)  Immediate ceasefire is needed in Gaza to stop the bloodshed. Disponível em:

ONU (2022). A ONU e a questão da Palestina. Disponível em:

PRCS – Palestinian Red Crescent Society (2023). Summary of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society’s Weekly Response Report. Disponivel em:

Save the Children (2023). GAZA: 3,195 Children Killed in three weeks surpasses annual number of children killed in conflict zones since 2019.  disponivel em:

UNRWA (2022) Nações Unidas preocupadas com cerco à Faixa de Gaza e impedimento de ajuda. Disponível em:


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