Statement Reiterates Obligation to Protect Civilians
Expressing “profound shock and sadness” as the death toll and human suffering continue to rise among civilians including children, in Gaza, The Lutheran World Federation has reiterated its urgent call to all parties in the conflict to allow for unrestricted humanitarian access and agree on an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.
In a 23 July joint statement by LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge, the global Lutheran communion expressed its “deepest concern and dismay” over the flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and other binding legal instruments, as fatalities from the Israeli and Palestinian conflict increased to over 600 since the hostilities began over two weeks ago.
“The LWF states with all firmness: conflicts and wars do not, and cannot provide any excuse to cease observing international obligations. As we have seen in the past, tampering with these obligations only opens the floodgates for atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Younan and Junge emphasized.
The LWF leaders called on the international community to broker an immediate ceasefire and resume direct peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. They called for a “move beyond rhetoric and the stalemate of geopolitical interests” to which the “UN Security Council has become hostage,” and urged an enforcement of international laws that protect civilians and ease human suffering.
Sparked by the killing of three Israeli teenagers and revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager, the recent fighting has claimed the lives of more than 620 Palestinians in Gaza and 30 Israelis. Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets against Israeli targets continues as Israel scales up its ground and air attacks on civilian neighborhoods in Gaza.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in agony as a result of the continued shelling and bombing of densely populated areas in Gaza [where] people are indiscriminately attacked, only given short warning with no safe place to find refuge, or possibly even used as human shields,” the LWF stated.
Younan and Junge said it was “distressing when access to the wounded and dead becomes impossible” and emergency services are hampered and overwhelmed, thereby only exacerbating the suffering.
As they reiterated the call to end hostilities and respect international humanitarian law, they affirmed “LWF’s conviction that violence and wars are not means to resolve differences.”