Geneva, 3 March 2008

Since the middle of last week more than 110 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed by attacks across the Israel-Gaza border. Most of the dead are civilians and one third of the dead are reportedly children. Our hearts go out to the parents and families of those killed, newly bereaved like so many before them. May God comfort them in their pain and sorrow, and may God move the hearts of those powers and authorities who hold the keys to peace.

We absolutely condemn these deadly attacks on civilians by the Israeli military on Gaza and by militants firing rockets from Gaza, reiterating the call of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches just days ago after the previous round of killings. Incessant violations of life and of human rights must stop. We call on the government of Israel, the occupying power, to fulfill its legal obligations to the people of Gaza under the Geneva Conventions. The blockade that has systematically deprived Gazans of almost all their rights must end. Food, fuel, medicine and essential services for Gaza must be guaranteed, as the WCC Central Committee noted and we repeat today.

We also call member churches to speak out for the people of Gaza now and join in an international initiative to promote peace in the weeks ahead. The WCC Central Committee has invited member churches to join in a week of International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 4-10 June 2008. More than a dozen countries are planning education, advocacy and public witness activities. Others are invited to do the same. All churches are asked to join churches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in a worldwide prayer for peace on Sunday, 8 June 2008, as part of the week.

Indiscriminate attacks are causing deep sorrow and outrage among churches and citizens in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in Israel, and around the world. Meanwhile, the path to peace stands open but empty. It is especially incumbent on governments using or allowing the use of overwhelming military power to turn away from violence and oppression and take responsibility for negotiating a justice and lasting peace.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia,
WCC general secretary