THE Church in Wales is urging people to respond to the Disasters
Emergency Committee's (DEC) appeal, launched last week, for people
affected by the conflict in Gaza. About 1900 Palestinians, mostly
civilians, and 67 Israelis, mainly soldiers, had died before the
latest 72-hour truce came into effect at the weekend.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: "People are now
in desperate need in Gaza. We cannot shy away from that and do
nothing for fear of getting entangled in a complex political
situation. We have as much of a duty to respond with love to their
basic humanitarian needs as we would to those in our own families
or communities. We must also pray for all those who are suffering,
and pray for a lasting solution to end this terrible conflict." Dr
Morgan urged people to donate money to the DEC through Christian
Christian Aid said that one of its partners, the Palestinian
Medical Relief Society, was operating two mobile clinics and
reaching areas that were previously cut off from humanitarian
assistance. They were providing comprehensive and desperately
needed health care and treatment to about 8000 people every day who
had taken refuge in UN schools. Another partner, Women's Affairs
Center, seeks to support 200 female-headed households by offering
them vouchers to obtain food and essential hygiene items.
Christian Aid reports that thousands of people have fled their
homes, and 1.5 million have no - or limited - access to water. A
third partner, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, has set
up access to clean drinking water in all areas identified by their
needs assessment, despite the difficulties in doing so.
Prayers for peace were said last Sunday at St Porphyrios's
Orthodox Church, in Gaza City, which has provided shelter for some
of the homeless - Muslims and Christians alike. The church's
cemetery was damaged in an airstrike.
Hamas officials have denied Israeli claims that the Palestinians
were firing rockets from civilian areas and places of worship.
Archbishop Alexios of Gaza told the Christian Broadcasting Network
(CBN) television channel, however, that some rockets were fired
from the roof of his office close to St Porphyrios's. At least two
churches in Gaza have been damaged in the fighting.
The international chorus of condemnation of the violence on both
sides in the Gaza conflict has been joined by Archbishop Desmond
Tutu. In a message to the International Union of Architects'
Congress in Durban, he said that he "condemned those Palestinians
responsible for firing rockets at Israel. For violence is not the
solution to human crises."
But, he said, the disproportionality of Israel's response had
been "utterly horrendous". The loss of life and physical
destruction of Gaza had been inflicted "in the name of preserving a
fundamentally divisive and undignified status quo founded on the
illegal occupation of Palestinian land".
In Britain, the Quakers, in their Yearly Meeting statement, also
expressed the view that the Palestine-Israel conflict would be
resolved only when the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory
ended. But they also said that they were convinced, based on the
testimony of Quakers in Ramallah in the West Bank, that Britain had
a part to play in achieving peace.
The statement urged the Government to "recognise Palestine as a
nation state on the same basis as it recognises Israel. We note
that 134 states have already recognised the State of Palestine. The
UK Government should also play its part in creating a real
opportunity for peace by drawing groups such as Hamas into the
political process and thus away from violent resistance to the
The suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza has sparked angry
denunciation of Israel by Arabs throughout the Middle East and
beyond. But a small number of Palestinians living in Israel view
the conflict through a different lens. A private Israeli internet
radio station, TLV1, broadcast interviews with a group of Israeli
Arab Christians in Haifa who were demonstrating in support of their
government's actions in Gaza.
Some of those quoted seemed to distance themselves from their
Arab roots. One of them said: "I am not Arab because I am
Christian, and I don't think you can be Arab and Christian at the
same time. . . I am Israeli, I am Christian, and that's it."