World churches body head condemns Israeli forces' attack near displaced persons' camp in Rafah

(WCC file photo)Gaza

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Jerry Pillay has joined the United Nations human rights chief in strongly condemning an attack by Israeli forces near a camp for displaced persons in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

Dozens of people were killed in the May 26 airstrike in an area where displaced civilians were sheltering in tents.

The strike sparked a fire that tore across the camp, local officials said.

"The World Council of Churches condemns all violations by Israeli forces of international humanitarian law and norms regarding the protection of civilians," said Pillay on May 29.

"We call for an immediate cessation of this deadly violence and appeal to both Israel and Hamas to desist from attacks on civilians and to urgently de-escalate the conflict."

Pillay lamented the civilian casualties and suffering resulting from this latest attack, adding to the unconscionable toll borne by the civilian population of Gaza in the current conflict.

"Strikes that kill civilians—especially innocent children—can never provide a path to sustainable peace, or to justice, but only perpetuate the cycle of violence," he said.

"We urge all WCC member churches to continue to pray for just peace in the land of Christ's birth, and in solidarity with all the people affected and threatened by violence."

The WCC cited the Gaza Health Ministry reporting hat at least 45 people were killed in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, the majority of them women and children.

The ministry said first responders warned that the number of casualties could rise, as many people were trapped in flames that erupted after the bombardment.

"It is time that these senseless killings of innocent people be stopped, and we appeal to the international community to assume a more prominent and responsible role in seeking an immediate ceasefire to spare the continued suffering and loss of lives of innocent people," Pillay said.

The strike drew condemnation from world leaders just days after the United Nations' top court ordered Israel to halt its offensive on the southern Gaza city, where more than a million people had sought refuge.

"Sunday's strike underscores once again that there is literally no safe place in Gaza," the UN Human Rights chief, Volker Türk, said of the incident in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border.

Türk also criticised Hamas; activity.

"Palestinian armed groups must stop the firing of rockets which are inherently indiscriminate, in clear violation of international humanitarian law. They must also unconditionally release all hostages at once," said the human rights chief.

Copyright © 2024 Ecumenical News