Catastrophic! - Churches for Middle East Peace Statement

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a destroyed house after an Israeli airstrike on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.Yousef Mohammad / AP

The following statement was issued Friday, Oct. 13 by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) 

CMEP and our member communions call for the world not to ignore the catastrophic crisis happening in Gaza, where people are “dying at the world’s watch.” As of Friday morning, October 13, more than 400,000 people in Gaza have already been displaced as a result of Israel’s bombing campaign and military offensive, which Israel’s war cabinet has said will “wipe Hamas off the earth” and Netanyahu has promised will “reverberate for generations.” CMEP condemned the October 7 attacks by Hamas and all violence targeting civilians and supports the United Nations in asserting that the world must intervene not to allow the consequences of displacement, starvation, and death to be placed upon the millions of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who must be differentiated from the actions of Hamas.

At this critical juncture, Congress and the Biden Administration must not sit idly by as ethnic cleansing unfolds. The United States government must immediately press Israel to abide by the Geneva Conventions and rules of war and to allow for the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. CMEP calls for the establishment of humanitarian corridors in Gaza to allow for needed humanitarian aid to flow to populations in critical need. All efforts must be made to protect civilian life and to pursue an immediate ceasefire.

On October 13, the Israeli government announced that the 1.1 million Gazans living in the northern part of the enclave had 24 hours to relocate to the south. CMEP strongly denounces this move – not only would it force people from their homes and communities, it is impossible to move more than one million people logistically and safely in such a short period of time. The southern area also remains under the threat of bombing. As the United Nations notes, such a move is not possible “without devastating humanitarian consequences.”

People of faith and goodwill can not turn a blind eye to the devastation in Gaza – thousands, if not tens of thousands, or more will die if Israel’s siege of Gaza and the continued bombing campaign continues. We cannot be silent in the face of ongoing collective punishment against the more than 2.2 million citizens of Gaza – of whom more than half are children. Already, more than 500 children have been killed. As the UN reminds us, “The time for humanity to prevail is now.”

CMEP calls on all to stand in the G.A.P. – Give. Act. Pray. To give to organizations who are addressing systemic issues and responding to the humanitarian crisis. To act by calling on the U.S. government and elected officials to call for an end to violence, war, and the devastation of human life. And to pray. Join us in our constant prayers on our Prayers4Peace blog, our corporate weekly prayers, and our weekly briefings to keep informed. CMEP affirms today’s statement from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem on the Escalating Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza and calls on all Christians and people of faith to join in the Day of Prayer and Fasting on Tuesday, October 17.

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