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‘Enough killing!’ say 140 church leaders in demand for Gaza ceasefire

28 March 2024

Alamy

Parachutes drop humanitarian supplies into northern Gaza, as seen from southern Israel, on Wednesday

Parachutes drop humanitarian supplies into northern Gaza, as seen from southern Israel, on Wednesday

BISHOPS in the Church of England are among the more than 140 church leaders to sign an international letter that calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

The letter, published during Holy Week under the banner of the organisation Churches for Middle East Peace, expresses “solidarity with all in the Holy Land who suffer”, and continues: “We say, ‘Enough killing!’ and together demand a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.”

As well as the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, and the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, signatories include the President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Gill Newton, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry. Others represented include the Roman Catholic Church, United Reformed Church, Church of Scotland, African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church, and Quakers.

Writing that “the global church — and world — cannot be silent as people continue to die in Gaza,” the leaders also express repentance of “the ways we have not stood alongside our Palestinian siblings in faithful witness in the midst of their grief, agony, and sorrow”.

The letter condemns “the daily bombing and ground invasion by the Israeli military, in addition to the shutting off of basic life-sustaining services to more than two million people who are suffering the consequences of crimes not their own”.

It refers to the preliminary ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this year, that Israel must limit harm to Palestinians in Gaza and “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all [potentially genocidal] acts” (News, 1 February). “Palestinians, South Africans, and experts around the world have said what is happening in Gaza is nothing less than a genocide.”

Reiterating that “the killing must stop”, the letter also calls for the release of “Israeli hostages and Palestinian political prisoners held without the due process of law” and emphasises support for a negotiated settlement. “We hold onto the hope that peace is possible even in the midst of this darkest hour.”

A former Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish; a former Bishop of Swindon and general secretary of the USPG, the Rt Revd Michael Doe; and Ann Farr, who chairs Pax Christi, England and Wales, are also among the signatories.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was not among the signatories, but last Friday reiterated his plea for an immediate ceasefire, as global concern about famine continued to mount. Earlier this month, he had said that there was “no moral justification” for the killing of Palestinians.

The Anglican Alliance has been co-ordinating an international appeal to bring much-needed funds and supplies for distribution through Anglican institutions in the Holy Land. This week, the executive director of the Alliance, Canon Rachel Carnegie, visited Jerusalem to see the humanitarian work undertaken there in association with the diocese. Support has included medical expenses for patients in Gaza, Nablus, and on the West Bank, and assistance through educational and psychosocial services for those, especially children, displaced by the conflict.

Canon Carnegie described the experience as “both heart-wrenching in seeing and hearing about the suffering, but also profoundly inspirational in witnessing the Church’s commitment to serving the most vulnerable, in sustaining lives and hope, and in speaking for peace, justice, and reconciliation”.

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