Mary Lucas, CAFOD’s Country Representative for the Middle East, said: “We urge the UK government, alongside its European partners, to apply pressure on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to end this violence immediately. Continued escalation will only harm the most vulnerable of citizens on both sides of the border.
“It cannot continue that so many Israelis are living in such fear—the attacks on schools and homes are unjust, horrendous and must cease. Within Gaza, however, the situation is far less tenable. Gazans, as has been their experience in other violent escalations since the closure of their borders, will account for the vast majority of those injured and killed in this conflict. Local medical groups report more than 20 civilians killed and at least 500 injured in Gaza in three days of military strikes.”
CAFOD supports the recent call by the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land for responsible leadership that is ready to work for justice and peace in Israel and Palestine. Mary Lucas said: “A new vision is needed for an alternative to this cycle of violence that divides and kills. Violence as a response to violence only breeds more violence.”
CAFOD also reiterates the vitally important message Pope Francis provided during his visit to the Holy Land this year:
“For the good of all, there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security. The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good.”
Furthermore, in his meeting with the Israeli leadership, Pope Francis said, “Here I renew my plea that all parties avoid initiatives and actions which contradict their stated determination to reach a true agreement and that they tirelessly work for peace, with decisiveness and tenacity. There is likewise need for a firm rejection of all that is opposed to the cultivation of peace and respectful relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims” (May 26, 2014).
God of peace, bearer of hope,
we seek your help
for the peoples of the Middle East.
Quiet the clamour of war
and guide us towards peace.
Where there is hatred and division
sow seeds of calm and openness.
Where there is destruction
help us to rebuild.
Where children are crying
bring an end to tears.
Shelter your peoples and protect them
Guide them and keep them from harm.
Show us how to break down the barriers of history and fear
and breathe whispers of hope.