The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Jordan, offered “sincere condolences to all who are mourning the loss of loved ones”
The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Jordan, offered "sincere condolences to all who are mourning the loss of loved ones" in the wake of a March 6 shooting incident at a rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem that left eight people dead, and after the violence that has killed at least 120 people in Gaza this past week.
In the March 6 incident, a gunman entered the library of the rabbinical school and began shooting. In addition to those who were killed, at least nine were wounded before the Palestinian gunman, a resident of East Jerusalem, was slain. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack. Meanwhile, Israel increased its military operations this week in Gaza in response to rocket firings by militants into Jewish neighborhoods.
"We in the church have been steady and strong voices for nonviolence," said Younan. "As it says in one of our Lutheran schools, ‘violence is the tool of the incompetent.’ I believe it is also the tool of the desperate and the hopeless. This is not to excuse any violence on any side, but to face the hard reality that unless people have something to live for they have nothing to lose."
Younan noted a human rights report issued this week stating that the 1.4 million people in Gaza are suffering the worst conditions in 40 years, with about 80 percent dependent on food aid, 40 percent dependent on unemployment benefits, hospitals with basic shortages of materials, and electricity, sewage and water systems that are collapsing.
"We in the church are afraid that this situation will only spawn more retaliation and revenge that benefits no one. We must not allow the deterioration of the situation to accelerate the vicious cycle of violence. Lasting peace and security will never come at the point of a gun or in the rubble of the shelling, but only through hard and tough dialogue and the upholding of equal human rights and international law," Younan wrote.
Younan called on leaders and people living in the Holy Land – including Christians, Jews and Muslims – to demonstrate to children that there are other ways to solve problems. He said people have a duty "to work for the sanctity of all human life and to raise the voices of the moderates who comprise a vast majority of the people on both sides. We cannot allow the extremists and the cycle of revenge and counter-revenge to hold the prospects of justice and peace hostage." He urged Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence, the missiles, shelling, shooting, rockets and incursions, and to restore basic human rights to the people of Gaza.
"Only through dialogue that represents all parties, including those we deem enemies, will bring a lasting and durable peace based on justice," Younan said. "May God bless all the families of those who have been killed, and may God help us together to reach a more just and dignified future for us all." Younan asked for partner churches throughout the world and "all people of good conscience to make time in their services for prayers of mercy for all people in the Holy Land."