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UK News

Archbishop of Canterbury urges Gaza churches to offer "Christ's love" to victims

The Archbisop of Canterbury has issued a plea for peace over the deteriorating situation in Gaza.

Most Revd Justin Welby's urged both Israel and Gaza to end the "brutal violence" and seek peace, and churches to offer victims Christ's love.

The Archbishop's comments come as the United Nations says Israeli artillery fire has struck a UN school sheltering Palestinians from the fighting in Gaza. Nineteen people are reported to have been killed with well over a hundred injured.

In statement released after being updated by staff at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, Archbishop Justin said: "You can't look at the pictures coming from Gaza and Israel without your heart breaking. We must cry to God and beat down the doors of heaven and pray for peace and justice and security. Only a costly and open-hearted seeking of peace between Israeli and Palestinian can protect innocent people, their children and grandchildren, from ever worse violence."

"For all sides to persist with their current strategy, be it threatening security by the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian areas or aerial bombing which increasingly fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, is self-defeating", he added.

Archbishop Justin's also encouraged Church of England parishes and dioceses, as well as the wider Communion, to pray for displaced and support the Diocese of Jerusalem's emergency appeal.

Britain's to send another 3-million pounds in humanitarian aid to Gaza as violence between Israel and Hamas there continues.It brings the UK's total aid contribution to 10-million pounds.

In a seperate development, several church leaders in the region have writted an open letter in the Guardian newspaper calling for prayer and assistance for Christians in the Middle East, in the wake of sustained persecution against believers across the region including Iraq and Syria and Egypt.

On Premier's 'News Hour, one of the signatories, Bishop Hani, Bishop of Israel and the Palestinian Terroritories Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches said: "we're crying from the Middle East as a Christian family who seeks peace for everybody. We would like to see our brothers and sisters of all denominations joining us in the effort of maintaining the Christian presence in the Middle East in general."

Meanwhile on Thursday Prime Minister David Cameron repeated his call a a ceasefire on both sides.

Bishop Hani Shehade, Bishop of Israel and the Palestinian Territories:

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