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Churches join global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Israel and Gaza

by Heather Preston

An ecumenical group of church leaders in Jerusalem have called for a day of prayer and fasting around the world in response to the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem encouraged Christians across the world to join them in fasting and praying for the humanitarian crisis facing the Holy Land.

In a recent statement the church leaders said: “our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic level and death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.”

The body has called upon all parties to de-escalate the war in order to save innocent lives.

To date, at least 1,400 Israelis have died and thousands more injured in Hamas's attack on Israel. Meanwhile, at least 2,800 people have died in Gaza following Israel’s retaliatory air strikes on the territory, which is home to more than two million people.

The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum says they are praying “without ceasing” for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war.

“We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers in our countries and around the world, For we are in dire need or hearts that love, show mercy, and are willing to live in unity with others – hearts that respect human dignity and choose life rather than death."

The Anglican Communion (AC) and The World Council of Churches (WCC) have also joined the call.

On Monday the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo said he “echoed” Hosam’s call for the pursuit of “peaceful and diplomatic solutions” to achieve a two-state solution.

He added: “and the realisation of the dream of both Israelis and Palestinians to enjoy living in freedom, Justice, and peace.”

Gavi Drake, the AC’s Director of Communications tells Premier that while it has always been a contested region, most Israelis and Palestinians have a common goal:

“The majority of the Israelis and Palestinians are on the same side, they want a peaceful co-existence of two secure safe neighbours.”

He says extremists have escalated this war and encouraged Christians to pray for “both sides”.

“It is very important that Christians don’t fall into the trap of being extremists and not being so pro-Palestinian that they want to destroy Israel or so pro-Israeli that they want to crush Palestinians.

“We need to pray for both to have what the majority of them want, which is safe and secure communities.”

Churches across the globe joined in praying and fasting for a peaceful end to the violence on Tuesday 17th October.

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