With a profound sense of urgency and a deep commitment to peace, the World Council of Churches expresses its grave concern regarding the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East following the first direct confrontation between Iran and Israel. We firmly believe that violence and warfare offer no sustainable solutions and only serve to further harm vulnerable communities and destabilize the region.

We reaffirm our conviction that safety and security are not singular achievements but collective realities that depend on the access of all people to justice, peace, and human dignity equally. It is within this framework that we issue the following calls to action:

  1. Avoiding Further Escalation: We call on all governments and politicians concerned to serve the interests of peace, people and planet instead of pride and retaliation. The prevention of further escalation of violence in the region should be a matter of priority for all concerned. 
  2. Responsibility of the United States and Other States: We call on the United States and all other states with influence in the region to uphold their responsibilities and act as agents of goodwill. It is essential that these nations use their positions to foster dialogue and encourage solutions that respect the rights and dignity of all people involved.
  3. Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza: We urgently call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. A cessation of hostilities is the first necessary step toward healing and recovery, allowing for an urgent collaborative effort to restore life in the region and ensuring the safe return of all civilians to their homes.
  4. Freedom of Detainees and Hostages: We call for the release of all Israeli hostages and Palestinian political prisoners detained for asserting their rights to be free from occupation, discrimination, and to live with dignity. Each human life counts and the freedom of these individuals underscores a commitment to human rights and justice. We also call for the release of all bodies of the deceased to their families.
  5. United Nations' Role: We urge the United Nations to actively resume its role in convening and facilitating peaceful negotiations between all parties involved. It is imperative that the United Nations also ensures that accountability is a cornerstone of these processes, promoting transparent and fair practices that lead to lasting peace. 

As followers of Christ, who calls us to be peacemakers, we are compelled to speak against the spiralling cycle of violence and to work tirelessly for a world where peace is rooted in justice. We pray earnestly for the day when "swords will be beaten into plowshares" (Isaiah 2: 4) and when peace will reign in the Middle East and across the world.

Let us all renew our commitment to justice and peace.

Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
general secretary
World Council of Churches