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Violence against Gaza must stop immediately, WCC general secretary says



ACT-hospital bombed

The main square 30 meters away from the Al Ahli Arab hospital was bombed, damaging an exterior hospital wall. The blast left a large crater and injured seven bystanders. Photo by Al Ahli Hospital/ACT International

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia has condemned "the violence against Gaza" and called on "governments in the region and abroad" to seek the protection of "those who are at risk [...] on both sides of the border".


"The deaths and suffering of the last three days are dreadful and shameful and will achieve nothing but more deaths and suffering," Kobia said in a 29 December statement. He was referring to the "over 300 lives lost, more than 1,000 people wounded, [and] uncounted thousands traumatized" in the Gaza strip as a result of the "bombardment of one of the most densely populated places on earth". This must stop immediately," he added.


The statement reiterates previous WCC calls on "the government of Israel and Hamas to respect international humanitarian and human rights law," and warns that in the present crisis the use of Israeli military ground forces "would deepen the current disaster".


The statement criticizes "policies that rely on cutting off shipments of food, medicine and fuel for 1.5 million Gazans, and on sending rockets across borders at random or ‘surgically'". As "a terrible period of deadlock and deprivation has now erupted into greater violence," the statement says, "the tired logic of public officials blaming others while denying their own government's responsibilities has led to the loss of many lives".


Reiterating a WCC central committee statement of last February condemning the "collective punishment" of Gazans as well as "attacks on civilians in and around Gaza," Kobia expressed his prayerful hope that "the New Year will bring new courage, new leadership and new commitment to the difficult work of peace in the Middle East."


Full text of the WCC general secretary statement


WCC central committee minute on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, February 2008