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Calling for peace is not anti-Israel says Christian Aid, as 69 Christian leaders write to Sunak

by Will Hobbs

Christian Aid's Head of Middle East Policy has told Premier that a ceasefire "is not about letting one side off the hook" and has called on leaders to act as if "every life is sacred" as the death toll in Gaza continues to soar.

Sixty-nine international Christian church leaders and aid agencies signed a letter to Rishi Sunak, imploring the prime minister to press for a full and permanent ceasefire, insisting that leaders simply "cannot remain silent as generations of families in Gaza are wiped out in an instant."

The letter states that over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7th, as well as 1,200 Israelis.

William Bell, who is also Christian Aid's Head of Advocacy, says while he accepts that Christians have differing views on the conflict, they can be united behind a call for the fighting to end.

"I think it's really important to note that when we call for a ceasefire, it's not about picking sides. It's not about letting one side off the hook. And there's also recognition that it's not going to be easy; this is going to be a very, very difficult thing to negotiate.

"But it has to be what we aspire to."

"We know that merely not killing each other is not going to end the conflict. But it is at least a place that we should try and start because while the killing continues, we know that we're not going to find any sort of lasting peace, which, of course, is as much of a benefit to the Israelis as Palestinians."

"So calling for a ceasefire, I know has been rejected by some. But actually, we think that it is probably the best way that you can achieve both the humanitarian access that is so desperately needed, and clearly it will stop the killing."

Bell has urged UK churches to discuss the situation, pray together for people on all sides, and specifically, remember innocent civilians, including hundreds of thousands of children who are living innocently in horror.

"Well over a million people are now no longer living in their homes; they're living in the streets, in shelters. They have very restricted access to aid. We're seeing diseases like Hepatitis now beginning to spread, diarrheal diseases, respiratory diseases, skin diseases, people don't have adequate water to wash with."

"People desperately need a ceasefire to be able to gain some sort of something that gives them life because at the moment, they're really not living, even if they're actually breathing."

For both sides, Bell is adamant that an end to fighting is in everyone's best interest, including when it comes to releasing the remaining hostages.

"When the guns stopped, that was a time when hostages were released. They should be released anyway; we shouldn't be having to wait for that pause. But your precedent suggests that that was an opportunity.

"So to me, it's not about picking sides."

"It's just respecting every single human life here as sacred. And therefore, that ceasefire is the only thing that can guarantee that."




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