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Churches Call for Peace in Holy Land

Tuesday October 10 2023


The Church of Scotland has joined other churches from the Holy Land and around the world in calling for peace in Israel and Palestine, following the outbreak of fighting at the weekend.

Hundreds have died, with many more wounded or taken hostage, after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched attacks into Israel from the Gaza strip, and Israel responded with rocket attacks on Gaza.

On Sunday the Rev David Cameron, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Assembly Trustees, said that the Church’s staff in the region were currently safe and being advised to remain in place. He said: “At this time, our prayers are for all of those affected by these horrendous events. They are with the families of those killed, both in Israel and in Gaza. They are with those who have been taken hostage. They are with those dealing with the decisions to be made in the days ahead. There can be no peace without justice, and we all must do what we can to bring justice to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza.

“This war feels like a breaking point. There is a context to all the attacks which is important, but there is no justification for them. The coming days are crucial as decisions are made which can either start the route to peace and justice, or lead to revenge and devastation, and much weeping and mourning.

“The Church of Scotland condemns this violence, condemns the actions of Hamas, calls for restraint as Israel rightly seeks to defend itself, and calls for a swift resolution to this war which leads to a significant change on the ground to this longstanding conflict. We pray for justice to prevail, knowing that violence can only lead to more death and destruction, so that all in the region may live in peace, Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Church leaders in the Holy Land issued a joint statement yesterday (Monday) calling for ‘the cessation of all violent and military activities that bring harm to both Palestinian and Israeli civilians’.

The statement, from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, said: “The Holy Land, a place sacred to countless millions around the world, is currently mired in violence and suffering due to the prolonged political conflict and the lamentable absence of justice and respect for human rights. We…have time and again appealed for the importance of respecting the historic and legal Status Quo of the holy shrines.”

The statement condemns all acts that target civilians. “It is our fervent hope and prayer that all parties involved will heed this call for an immediate cessation of violence,” it continues. “We implore political leaders and authorities to engage in sincere dialogue, seeking lasting solutions that promote justice, peace, and reconciliation for the people of this land, who have endured the burdens of conflict for far too long.”

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev Prof Dr Jerry Pillay, also called for an end to the violence. He said: “The World Council of Churches appeals urgently for an immediate cessation of this deadly violence, for Hamas to cease their attacks and ask both parties for de-escalation of the situation.

“We are deeply concerned about the imminent risks of spiralling conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, and of the inevitably tragic consequences for the people of the region – Israelis and Palestinians alike – following a period of escalating tensions and violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“The current attacks threaten only more violence; they cannot provide a path to peace or to justice.

“We urge all WCC member churches to join today in praying for just peace in the land of Christ’s birth, and in solidarity with all the people affected and threatened by violence.”


 


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