Their children are on the front lines of a war they strongly oppose — and they feel their movement is growing.
"My son, his role is to be in the army right now, to be a combat soldier in the army. And my role as his mother is to oppose and to end this," said Nurete Brenner, a dual Israeli-American citizen whose son was deployed in Gaza weeks ago.
As global outrage grows over the climbing death toll in Gaza, and as relatives of hostages vent their anger at their leaders for failing to negotiate the release of their loved ones, a small but growing minority of Israelis are calling for an immediate cease-fire. That includes Michal Brody-Bareket whose eldest son has been fighting nonstop in Gaza as part of a special forces unit.
A longtime peace activist, Brody-Bareket was terrified about the prospect of sending him to Gaza after the Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7. She tried to mobilize other mothers from her son's unit to sway public opinion against a ground invasion, but was met with silence. "I can't understand how mothers around me with sons in Gaza think that this is unavoidable," she told Scripps News from her home in Jerusalem.
Soon after, she started a national movement she called "Mothers' Cry," because crying out in her anguish and frustration is how she constantly feels. "We have more than 200 soldiers killed since the ground invasion. And still everyone's talking about continuing it," Brody-Bareket said.
She says she sees no significant military or political gains in the current Israeli offensive in Gaza, which she describes as "committing suicide and killing others."
During a recent short break from deployment, Brody-Bareket's son told her mother a few "awful, awful, awful" things about his experience in Gaza, most of which Brody-Bareket said she preferred to keep to herself. Still, she said she wanted to share one detail: "The sewage [in Gaza] for two million people is not working and we are sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to this hell of diseases and epidemics. Only this one detail is astonishing," she said.
Today, the Mothers' Cry group has nearly 700 members who strategize on WhatsApp and Facebook on how to best share their anti-war message without being vilified. Though hundreds of thousands of Israelis have joined protests calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, anti-war protests are much more controversial. According to civil rights activists, they are often met with police violence. Brody-Bareket says she has even received death threats.
Still, she says she has hope that more and more Israelis are warming up to her views. Asked if she is still proud of her son, she said she is extremely proud of him but "very angry for what the government is making him do."
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