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Statements on the Gaza Crisis

The following statements come from CWS partners in Palestine and around the world. 

 

  • Middle East Council of Churches 17 January 2009: Condemns the violence in Gaza and the attack on its mother and child health clinic. Calls for governments to ensure ceasefire is implemented. Read more
  • New Zealand Church Leaders' Statement 13 January 2009: The leaders of New Zealand churches are deeply concerned about the dire situation in Gaza and support the call for an immediate ceasefire in the region. Read more
  • Bernard Sabella's open letter to President Elect Obama 9 January 2009: Calls for a just and peaceful solution to the conflict, the hope Obama offers for change and "The lesson learned from the tragic war on Gaza is that the Arab-Israeli conflict should come to an end; that Palestinians and Israelis need to live next to each other as neighbors and not as enemies"...  Download
  • New Year message from Palestine: "May the New Year bring Gaza the peace so much desired and needed and may it fulfil our dreams for an end to occupation and achievement of our national, political and socio-economic spirations. Thank you all for sharing your concern and hard work with us during these transitional days from 2008 to 2009. May the New Year bring you, as us, the fulfilment of wishes of a world at peace with itself." Dr. Bernard Sabella, Executive Director, Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, Middle East Council of Churches
  • Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem 30 December 2008: Calling for an end to the violence and inviting prayer and action for Palestinians living in Gaza. Read more
  • CWS Statement 29 December 2008: CWS condemns the violent attacks by the government of Israel and Hamas,and continues to call for greater efforts towards negotiating a just solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict.
  • World Council of Churches Statement 29 December 2008: The World Council of Churches is calling for an end to the violence against Gaza and for governments in the region and abroad to seek the protection of those who are at risk on both sides of the border Read full statement
  • Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, Middle East Council of Churches 27 December 2008: The DSPR is calling on the international community to pressure the Israeli government for an immediate ceasefire. They are concerned for the hundreds of Palestinians falling victim to the bombings, the deprivation of food and water supplies and the long term psychological scars left on the people.

 

NZ Church Leaders’ statement on Gaza

The leaders of New Zealand churches are deeply concerned about the dire situation in Gaza and support the call for an immediate ceasefire in the region

The escalation of violence and associated increase in civilian casualties is intolerable. It is time for concerted action to end the suffering of the 1.5 million people trapped within the 360 square kilometers of Gaza with little food, water and medicine, and under almost continuous attack from the land, sea and air. 

Before the collapse of the ceasefire in December, the borders of Gaza were tightly controlled and movement in and out very difficult.  Now the conditions are much more lethal.  The consequences of this unparalleled pressure cannot be underestimated.  Already many innocent civilians have been killed and injured. People are living in perpetual fear and growing numbers of people are in desperate need of food and water as well as medical treatment.  The trauma will have a lasting effect on everyone and is undermining any possibility of negotiating a just and sustainable peace. 

To date the international community has failed to broker a lasting peace.  We urge the New Zealand government to do all that it can through the United Nations and through its own diplomatic efforts to call a halt to Israel’s military offensive and the Hamas attacks. New Zealand has an obligation to uphold the international community’s ‘Responsibility to Protect’ populations from war crimes as agreed at the United Nations’ Millennium Summit.

As followers of Jesus, who exercised his ministry of reconciliation in this troubled region, Christians are deeply concerned about Jewish-Palestinian enmity.  While religion is often tragically used to fuel inherited hostilities, it can also be a force for shalom/salaam. It is our hope and prayer that all adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths in that region (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) might truly seek the way of peace and reconciliation to which their scriptures bear witness.

We encourage church members and all people of goodwill to:

-    Pray for the victims and perpetrators of violence in Gaza and Israel.

-    Pray for the success of diplomatic efforts between Hamas, the Israeli Government and the international community.

-    Pray for peace and reconciliation.

-    Advocate for the New Zealand government, world leaders and the United Nations to take effective action to renew the ceasefire in Gaza and work towards a just resolution of the conflict in the interests of long term security and peace.

-    Support the Christian World Service and Caritas Gaza Appeals providing desperately needed food, fuel, water and medicines in Gaza.

13 January 2009

Jabez Bryce, Bishop of Polynesia,Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia

John A Dew, Archbishop of Wellington,Roman Catholic Church of New Zealand

Rodney Macann, National Leader,Baptist Union of New Zealand

Garth McKenzie, Territorial Commander,The Salvation Army

David Moxon, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses, Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia

Graham Redding, Assembly Moderator,Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

Mia Tay, Clerk, Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New ZealandReligious Society of Friends

Brown Turei, Bishop of Aotearoa, Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia

Jill van der Geer, Presiden,Methodist Church of New Zealand 

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WCC Statement on the Gaza crisis

The first word to say to the violence against Gaza is ‘Stop’.  Over 300 lives lost, more than 1,000 people wounded, uncounted thousands traumatized, bombardment of one of the most densely populated places on earth… this must stop immediately.

Governments in the region and abroad, the Arab League, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations must use their good offices to see that all those who are at risk are protected, on both sides of the border, and must ensure access for emergency and medical aid.   The deaths and suffering of the last three days are dreadful and shameful and will achieve nothing but more deaths and suffering.  

People around the world are looking for change that brings peace closer in the Middle East.  A terrible period of deadlock and deprivation has now erupted into greater violence.  Policies that rely on cutting off shipments of food, medicine and fuel for 1.5 million Gazans and on sending rockets across borders at random or ‘surgically’ only confirm how far from the path of peace the current authorities have strayed.  To use ground forces would deepen the current disaster. Collective punishment against one’s neighbors is illegal and has no place in building peace. 

In the countries involved in this conflict, churches and church members are looking to their governments to take up the urgent work of securing a viable future for Palestinians, Israelis and their neighbors.  The tired logic of public officials blaming others while denying their own government’s responsibilities has led to the loss of many lives.  Governments need now to be accountable for peace.

At the beginning of 2008, the World Council of Churches central committee condemned attacks on civilians in and around Gaza, called for all who exercise authority over Gaza including the government of Israel and Hamas to respect international humanitarian and human rights law, and urged member churches to pray and work for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 

At the end of 2008, in this season of religious celebrations, it is a tragedy that the same measures are more necessary than ever.  Our prayer is that the New Year will bring new courage, new leadership and new commitment to the difficult work of peace in the Middle East.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches
29 December 2008

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