Faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem have urgently called for peace amidst the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
In separate statements, the Church leaders decry attacks on hospitals and civilians while emphasizing the need for humanitarian aid and de-escalation.
Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
Archbishop Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican Communion, expressed his heartfelt plea for peace in the Holy Land.
He decried an explosion at the Anglican-run Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, and stressed the importance of protecting hospitals, doctors, and patients.
He said “this atrocity violates the sanctity and dignity of human life. It is a violation of humanitarian law, which is clear that hospitals, doctors, and patients must be protected.”
In a statement, published on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website, Archbishop Welby acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense and to establish its security.
“The evil and heinous terror attacks by Hamas on people in Israel were crimes against God and humanity. Israel has a legitimate right and duty to defend itself, and to pursue a proportionate and discriminate response to establish its security,” he said.
However, he lamented the civilian death toll resulting from Israel’s bombing campaign on Hamas.
“It is indefensible that hospitals, schools and refugee camps are being struck,” said Archbishop Welby. “It is an outrage that hostages are being held by Hamas.”
Going on to express his deep concern for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Archbishop appealed for the release of hostages and humanitarian access, calling for “a different path – one that spares innocent lives and pursues justice, security, and lasting peace for all.”
Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem
The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem have also released a statement, following a meeting held to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Holy Land.
Emphasising the sanctity of human life, the statement is entitled “God created mankind in His own image” – taken from Genesis 1.
The Church leaders decried the violence targeting civilians, particularly in Gaza, saying “we are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unratifiable attack against all civilians.”
They also expressed their distress over the decision to evacuate the north of Gaza, stating that it “will only deepen an already disastrous humanitarian catastrophe,” and called for humanitarian access.
The heads of the Churches called upon Israel, with international support, to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza and urged all parties to de-escalate the conflict.
“We call upon the State of Israel, with the support of the International Community, to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza… Moreover, we call upon all parties to de-escalate this war.”
Day of prayer and fasting
Finally, the religious leaders requested global communities and congregations to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting on 27 October, reiterating Pope Francis’ invitation on Wednesday morning at his weekly General Audience.
“There is yet time to stop the hatred,” the religious leaders concluded.