(LifeSiteNews) — Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant leaders in the Middle East have issued a statement after conducting an “emergency” meeting. They are calling on the Israeli government to allow “humanitarian supplies” to reach Gaza so innocent civilians can receive basic medical treatment.
“Our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week,” the October 13 joint statement by the “The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem” reads. “We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians.”
The joint statement came amid news that Israel had cut off water, electricity, and other resources to Palestinians living in Gaza. Israel’s energy minster as well as other government officials have said that the resources will continue to be denied until Jewish hostages held by Hamas are freed. International experts have said that Israel’s actions amount to war crimes. Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett defended the measure during an interview on Sky News. “Are you seriously asking about Palestinian civilians?” he remarked.
Their statement draws further attention to the fact that, “423,000 people have already been displaced because of the destruction of their homes. Many civilians in Gaza have said to us that there is no realistic ways in which they can evacuate to safety in any direction. We call upon all parties to de-escalate this war in order to save innocent lives while still serving the cause of justice.”
“We call upon the State of Israel,” the statement continues, “with the support of the international community, to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza so that the thousands of innocent civilians may receive medical treatment and basic supplies.”
More than 2 million Palestinians live in the 141-square-mile-Gaza Strip. Approximately 40 percent are 14 years old or younger. 70 percent are classified by international law as refugees, which means they have a right to return to their homeland in what is now Israeli-occupied Palestine.
On Thursday, the Israeli government issued a twenty-four hour evacuation warning for the 1.1 million civilians who reside in Gaza’s northeast region. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has said it is looking to “expand” its attack.
As of the publication of this story, there is believed to have been more than 1,300 Israeli and 2,000 Palestinian deaths, including civilians. News outlet Reuters is calling for the IDF to conduct an internal investigation after one of its videographers, Issam Abdallah, was killed while reporting on the conflict in southern Lebanon. Six others were wounded in the attack as well. AFP News journalist Christina Assi also suffered severe injuries, also apparently due to the IDF, while in Lebanon.
Videos on social media appear to show that the Gaza civilians who are leaving are being bombed, though that has not been confirmed. Some claim Israel would carry out such attacks while others suggest Hamas might and would want to blame Israel. The United Nations has said that such a large-scale evacuation in less than a day is practically “impossible.”
The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem issued two previous statements calling for peace in the region, one on October 7 and another on October 8. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who serves as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, released a statement on October 11 calling for a day of fasting
In 2010, the Vatican issued a statement calling for a solution to the on-going violence in the region. It noted that Palestinians are “suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation” and that Israeli’s face “insecurity.” The Vatican called for “an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.”
The full statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem can be read below:
Today, an emergency committee of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem met for prayer and consultation over the grave humanitarian crisis the has befallen all of us.
Our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic level of death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.
The order to evacuate the north of Gaza and to ask 1.1 million people — including all the members of our Christian communities there — to relocate to the south within 24 hours will only deepen an already disastrous catastrophe. Gaza’s entire population is being deprived of electricity, water, fuel supplies, food, and medicine. According to UN sources, 423,000 people have already been displaced because of the destruction of their homes. Many civilians in Gaza have said to us that there are no realistic ways in which they can evacuate to safety in any direction.
We call upon the State of Israel, with the support of the International Community, to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza so that the thousands of innocent civilians may receive medical treatment and basic supplies. Moreover, we call upon all parties to de-escalate this war in order to save innocent lives while still serving the cause of justice.
Finally, in support of all those who have suffered in this war and of the families reeling from the violence, we call upon the people of our congregations and all those of goodwill around the world to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Tuesday, October 17th.
There is yet time to stop the hatred.
— The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem.