Calling for Gaza ceasefire, Holy Land bishop rues more Christian migration
Calling for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine, Holy Land Lutheran Bishop Munib A. Younan is afraid this current wave of violence may force more Palestinian Christians to emigrate.
After a five-hour temporary ceasefire and the rejection by Hamas of a total cessation of hostilities, Israel began a military ground offensive into Gaza on Thursday night expanding from its aerial and naval bombardment.
In a statement issued on Wednesday from Jerusalem, Younan, who heads the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land called for an immediate and unconditional cessation of the hostilities.
"Witnessing the bombardments, hearing the sirens, listening to the cries of mothers and children, seeing the ambulances carrying the wounded and people living in absolute fear, the ELCJHL cries out to God.
"We also raise our voice to all Christian sisters and brothers, along with all people of goodwill, to end this latest round of violence between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people."
Younan said, "And what is the Holy Land without its Christians?
"To Palestinian Christians here in this land, I call upon you to remain, continuing your service as instruments of peace, brokers of justice, bridge builders, and agents of change."
The bishop condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas against civilian targets and the ongoing Israeli blockade and bombardment of Gaza.
This has resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people in Gaza, 80 percent of whom are civilians, and 20 percent include children.
Younan, who is also President of The Lutheran World Federation, said that many people in the region are depressed, frustrated and wondering about the future of Palestine and the Middle East.
"What Palestine and Israel need at the moment is justice, peace and dignity rather than the radicalization, revenge, and bloodshed promoted by one-sided diplomatic or military support for either group," he said.
Bishop Younan said his church was calling for:
"Parties to the present conflict (Israel and Hamas) to agree upon an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities.
"This ceasefire should be facilitated by the international community to bring an end to human suffering.
"The focus of the international community should be on humanitarian and development assistance for the communities most negatively affected by the current round of violence.
"What Palestine and Israel need at the moment is justice, peace and dignity rather than the radicalization, revenge, and bloodshed promoted by one-sided diplomatic or military support for either group."
He said the Palestinians and Israelis need to live in peace and dignity.
Younan's plea was echoed by LWF general secretary Rev. Martin Junge, who called the new wave of violence "an escalation of madness" that will result in all parties losing.