The World Council of Churches executive committee, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria has called for "an immediate ceasefire," the release of all hostages and the opening of humanitarian corridors in Palestine and Israel.
The WCC body meeting from Nov. 8-14 joined the Catholic Caritas MONA group which operates in the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa during the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel and the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
On Nov. 15 Qatari mediators sought a deal between Hamas and Israel that included the release of around 50 civilian hostages from Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, an official briefed on the negotiations told Reuters news agency.
The deal, under discussion and coordinated with the U.S., would also see Israel release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails and increase the amount of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza, the official said,
It, however, falls short of the uncondtional release of all the hostages.
The WCC statement demands "the immediate unconditional release and safe return of all hostages" as well as "an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors."
It also "calls for guarantees of the unimpeded distribution and delivery of vital humanitarian assistance, including water, food, medical supplies, and fuel, and the reinstatement of electricity and internet services in Gaza."
The Geneva-based WCC is a grouping of of 352 churches from more than 120 countries, representing nearly 600 million Christians mainly from Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant Chrisitans worldwide.
'YEARNING FOR PEACE'
"We yearn for peace and for justice, for an end to the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering, and for its fundamental root causes to be addressed," reads the WCC statement.
"We lament the abject failure of the international community and of political leaders in the region who did not persist in the search for a sustainable peace founded on justice and mutual respect for the equal human dignity and rights of all, and who kept the cycle of violence turning."
The executive committee appealed for respect by all parties for the God-given life and dignity of every human being, as well as respect for the principles of international humanitarian law.
It specifically cited the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure – including hospitals (such as the al-Ahli, al-Shifa, and al-Quds hospitals), places of worship and holy sites (such as the St. Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church), and UN premises.
The WCC also called for full and impartial legal accountability for all violations of these principles by whomsoever committed.
The statement demands "the immediate unconditional release and safe return of all hostages" as well as "an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors."
The text also "calls for guarantees of the unimpeded distribution and delivery of vital humanitarian assistance, including water, food, medical supplies, and fuel, and the reinstatement of electricity and internet services in Gaza."