The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), issued a Jan. 22 statement with other heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), issued a Jan. 22 statement with other heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The statement called Israel’s blockade of Gaza "illegal collective punishment, an immoral act in violation of the basic human and natural laws as well as International Law. It cannot be tolerated anymore. The siege over Gaza should end now."
Israel eased the blockade later that day. Agence France- Presse (AFP) reported that trucks carrying cooking gas, industrial diesel and fuel oil entered Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the strip sealed off Jan. 17 in response to persistent rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.
The church leaders said the blockade "imprisoned" 1.5 million people "without proper food or medicine." The action left large parts of the Palestinian territory, which also borders Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, without access to electricity.
"To deny children and civilians their necessary basic commodities are not the ways to security but rather throw the region into further and more dangerous deterioration. This siege will not guarantee the end to rocket firing, but will only increase the bitterness and suffering and invite more revenge, while the innocents keep dying," said the statement.
The Christian leaders called on Palestinian officials "to unite in ending their differences for the sake of their people in Gaza. Put the differences aside and deal with this crisis for the good of all human beings, demonstrating that you care for your brothers and sisters who have suffered enough already."
The church leaders advised "all concerned parties" to stop the violence. "While ever you persist in firing rockets into Israel you encourage public opinion outside this land to feel there is a justification for this siege," they said.
"We pray for the day when the people of Gaza will be free from occupation, from political differences, from violence and from despair. We pray for the Israelis and Palestinians to respect human life and God’s love for every human life, and to take all possible measures to end this suffering," said the church leaders.
The ELCJHL and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Younan serves as an LWF vice president.
Other members of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land include (Roman Catholic) Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch Torkom II Manooghian of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Archbishop Anba Abraham of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate and Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani.