Initiators of a World Week for Peace have urged Christians to pray and act for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. The call is “timely”, they said, as peace activists have reportedly been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip this morning.
“We are uniting our voices with others, to speak with one voice against the injustices being suffered by the Palestinian people living under occupation for now more than 43 years,” said Rev. John Calhoun preaching at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva to mark the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI) on 31 May.
The week has been convened by the World Council of Churches in cooperation with ecumenical partners and encourages Christians and churches across the world to pray and work for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. A list of events taking place during the week shows how churches from the Philippines to the United States and from the Netherlands to Kenya are engaged in related activities.
“The call to be peacemakers is a holy call,” said the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in welcoming participants to the service. “This year the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI) is once more timely … with people seeking to show the need for humanitarian aid going to Gaza being killed this morning … This year again we need even more than before to point to how settlements and occupation are real obstacles to a just peace. All parties must stop violence and find the way forward.”
According to news reports, at least 10 people have been killed this morning during an operation carried out by the Israeli military in order to prevent a flotilla of up to nine vessels carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian peace activists to reach Gaza with humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicines. The flotilla, organized separately to the WCC peace week, involves members of Christian and Muslim groups as well as politicians and activists, including some Israelis.
“This conflict has caused too much suffering, too much injustice. It is time for this conflict to end,” stated Calhoun in his sermon. Calhoun, a United Methodist Church pastor from the United States currently works in Amman, Jordan and coordinates the WCC’s World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel.
Pointing to the very strong message of the Kairos document, written by Christians in the Middle East and launched last December, Tveit reiterated its call to churches and Christians throughout the world to respond to the conflict “with prayer, witness and hard work … it is remarkable that in this situation people are prepared to talk about love. We are not against anybody; we are for peace for all peoples.”