Welsh urged to donate to Gaza appeal

15 August 2014

AP

Archbishop Alexios of Gaza in the cemetery of St Porphyrios's, in Gaza City, on Sunday

Archbishop Alexios of Gaza in the cemetery of St Porphyrios's, in Gaza City, on Sunday

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 Aid (www.christianaid.org.uk).

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 occupation."

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."

 

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