Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu has joined Roman Catholic leaders in the Holy Land and the World Council of Churches in calling for a halt to the "cycle of violence" in Israel and Gaza.
WCC general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, in a statement Thursday strongly condemned attacks by the Israeli military on the civilian population in Gaza, as well as firing of rockets by militants from Gaza to Israel.
Tveit said that the failure of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the loss of prospects for a two-State solution to end occupation triggered this "unbearable and infernal cycle of violence and hatred that we are witnessing today."
"Without an end to the occupation, the cycle of violence will continue," he said.
The Catholic leaders also said much of the Palestinian violence was linked to the occupation of its land.
For his part Tutu said in a statement Wednesday, "Once again, the people of Israel and Palestine are embroiled in a deadly contest of tit-for-tat violence in which there can never be victors, only losers..
"Like children following a playground dust-up, political and religious leaders fall over each other, not to make peace, but to proclaim: It wasn't us, they started it."
The former Archbishop of Cape Town said Israel would never achieve true security and safety through oppressing the Palestinians, and Palestine would never achieve peaceful self-determination through violence.
'NO CONFLICT IS INTRACTABLE'
"No conflict is intractable; no disagreement so absolute that it can never be healed.
"The world is looking to Israelis and Palestinians to be bigger than themselves; to act now, before any more children are harmed," said Tutu.
The Holy Land Catholic leaders offered their sincere condolences to all those in mourning, Israelis and Palestinians.
"We must continue to pray that those that have fallen recently will be the last to die violent deaths in this escalation of hatred and vengeance," the Catholic leaders said.
"The violent language of the street in Israel that calls for vengeance is fed by the attitudes and expressions of a leadership that continues to foster a discriminatory discourse promoting exclusive rights of one group and the occupation with all of its disastrous consequences," the Catholic leaders said.
Their statement said that settlements were built, lands confiscated, families separated, "loved ones are arrested and even assassinated."
They said, "We need to recognize that the kidnapping and cold blooded murder of the three Israeli youth and the brutal vengeance killing of the Palestinian youth are products of the injustice and of the hatred that the occupation fosters in the hearts of those prone to such deeds."
They noted that, "The violent language of the Palestinian street that calls for vengeance is fed by the attitudes and expressions of those who have despaired of any hope to reach a just solution to the conflict through negotiations."
The statement said that those seeking to build a totalitarian, monolithic society, where there is no difference or diversity, gain popular support, are exploiting this situation of hopelessness.
"To these we also say: Violence as a response to violence breeds only more violence."