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Pastoral letter on the death of three Israeli teenagers

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit's pastoral letter on the death of the three Israeli teenagers.

01 July 2014

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I again express the sorrow we feel, a sorrow felt across national borders and differences in religion and culture, at the suffering and loss of life in Israel and Palestine. Our heartfelt prayers are with all who are affected by the tragedy that has got the attention of the whole world, and we continue to pray for the establishment of peace with justice for all.

The prophecy of Jeremiah (31:15) bears witness to the depth of grief that is being experienced today:

Thus says the Lord:                                                                                                                         
A voice is heard in Ramah,                                                                                         
lamentation and bitter weeping.                                                                                              
Rachel is weeping for her children;                                                                                            
she refuses to be comforted for her children,                                                                      
because they are no more.

No parent, of any creed or country, be it in Israel or Palestine, or in the neighbouring countries of Syria and Iraq, should have to experience such anguish. And yet the violence continues, with inadequate steps toward the resolution of conflict and the prevention of needless death.

We mourn today the three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were recovered on June 30, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrah. We pray for their families, all their friends and the extended community that grieves their loss.

We also grieve for those Palestinians who have been killed or wounded as a result of measures taken to find the kidnapped boys, as a consequence of resistance to those measures, as a feature of daily confrontations that haunt Israel and Palestine.

Justice must prevail. All acts of violence and terror must be investigated and prosecuted according to law. Collective retribution is not justice, nor will it lead to peace.

In this highly tense situation, we call on all parties to condemn all kinds of violence and to refrain from using it. We urge them to be wise and to find a way towards a restoration of the peace process that has been so badly stalled in recent months, for the sake of the victims and all who could become victims of an escalation of violence. The fellowship of churches represented by the World Council of Churches continues to work to improve relations and the conditions necessary for justice and peace.

Meanwhile, we remain in prayer for healing and ultimate reconciliation.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretray