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World News

Christian leaders call for a full ceasefire in Middle East to allow delivery of aid

by Ros Mayfield

More than 20 church leaders and Christian organisations have come together to sign a joint statement calling for a ceasefire and all governments with influence to bring an immediate end to the violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. 

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has backed a non-binding resolution calling for a "humanitarian truce" - its first since the conflict broke out.  The UK was among 45 countries that abstained from the vote, which passed by 120 to 14. 

Calls for an end to hostilities are now growing across the UK.  Police were expecting about 100,000 people to join a demonstration in London this weekend, demanding a ceasefire, with other rallies planned in Manchester and Glasgow.  But Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, claims such calls "aren't going to help the situation", and says Hamas has given no indication it "desires or would abide by" any ceasefire. 

Signatories to the statement represent several denominations from all corners of the British Isles, including bishops and archbishops from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. 

They state: "There can be no justification for the deliberate killing, maiming and kidnapping of civilians, which is a crime under international law and for which the perpetrators should be held accountable. We unequivocally condemn the violence carried out by Hamas in Israel on 7th October. 

The subsequent Israeli military response in Gaza has added enormously to the toll of civilian suffering. Innocent Palestinians are going through an increasingly grave humanitarian crisis as a result the Israeli government’s strategy of relentless bombardment, which has left no place safe, and of siege, which effectively strangles life."

They call on "all governments with influence" to help bring about an immediate end to the violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and appeal for the international community to acknowledge its failure "to effectively engage with any meaningful peace process", and pledge a commitment to "work ceaselessly from now on to address the root causes of the violence which must include an end to the occupation".

Recent UN figures showed that more than, 7,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 18,500 injured in Gaza over the last three weeks. 

Following the weapon strike on the Al Ahli Anglican Episcopal hospital last week, Christian Aid has been calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to carry out an independent investigation into all war crimes to ensure accountability. 

One of Christian Aid’s medical partners in Gaza explained: “Now we are worried about what will happen to other hospitals that have also been told to evacuate. Especially Al Shifa hospital, which takes half of the injured in Gaza.” They added: “We are worried that hospitals will stop operating because of a shortage of fuel. We don’t know if hospitals have the fuel to keep going for days or hours.” 

Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East Policy and Advocacy, William Bell, said: 

“Alongside faith leaders and Christian Organisations, Christian Aid is demanding the release of all kidnapped victims alongside unequivocal support for the International Criminal Court to carry out an independent investigation into all war crimes to ensure accountability.  

“Our established partners in Gaza continue to respond as best they can, but to respond at scale we need unfettered humanitarian access with water and electricity reconnected. Only a full ceasefire will deliver aid safely and effectively.”

Israel has promised to allow humanitarian trucks carrying water, fuel and medication to enter Gaza.

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