The conflict broke out after Israel launched a ground and air assault on Hamas militants, who had fired multiple rockets from the densely populated Gaza Strip and had launched attacks from a network of cross-border tunnels.
At the time of printing, more than 1,100 civilians had died, 6,700 had been injured and more than 100,000 had been displaced according to UN figures. Israel argues that the assault is necessary in order to remove the military threat posed by Hamas, which is openly committed to its destruction.
One major concern is that a high proportion of victims are children. According to Channel 4 anchorman Jon Snow, 1,310 children had been wounded and 166 killed by the time he visited Gaza at the end of July, with numbers rapidly swelling. He claims that the average age in Gaza has dropped to 17.
The World Evangelical Alliance is among the Christian organisations calling for an immediate end to hostilities and a return to negotiations. Chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Israel, Rev Charles Kopp, said: ‘It is imperative we remember that our first allegiance and citizenship is from above and that we cannot use the Bible selectively to defend the cause with which we identify.
‘We need to come out of this latest round of death and destruction and agree to place this quagmire of despair behind us, and transcend these latest attempts to assassinate what is left of our brotherhood in Christ by loving one another more fervently. Then, and only then, will we be able to demonstrate a difference that the world would envy.’
Chairman of the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land (CLECHL), Palestinian pastor Dr Munir Kakish, said: ‘We ask Israelis and Palestinians to stop the fighting. We, as a council, want to be a bridge of peace to all people. We feel very strongly that killing – no matter where – is not a godly response. War is not the answer. Negotiations are the proper path to solve conflicts.’
Embrace the Middle East chief executive Jeremy Moodey told Premier Christianity that when the current round of violence stopped, the international community would still be faced with the long-term question of what to do about Gaza. ‘The status quo, which involves the continued effective imprisonment and denial of basic rights to 1.9 million Palestinians, is simply not sustainable,’ he said.
A statement from Kairos Britain urged the global Church to act: ‘Now is the time for Christians to take action to end the suffering in Gaza and promote a just, lasting and sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians.’
The organisation called on Christians to urge local MPs to address the ‘root causes’ of the conflict.
Image: A Palestinian woman runs with her children following what police said was an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza city July 9, 2014. (Reuters)