Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge
As the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah escalates dramatically and alarmingly, churches throughout the world have joined the United Nations, NGOs and other international bodies in asking all parties to step back from the brink of destruction.
In recent hours, at least eight people were killed by a militant rocket attack on Haifa, Israelís third largest city. Reports suggest that over 65 people have been killed by Israeli attacks on Lebanon, which Israel blames for insufficient action against Hezbollah ñ which in turn has said that it regards Israeli actions as ìa declaration of warî.
Now Israel has threatened ìfar-reachingî acts of revenge for the Haifa attack. Lebanese citizens are confused and angry to be caught in the military exchange, and international citizens ñ including up to 15,000 Britons are in the danger zone.
Israel has attacked Lebanese security units ñ the same ones they say should be taking action against Hezbollah.
For its part, Hezbollah, in a media conference today (16 June 2006) said that it was prepared to take revenge "without end".
Analysts fear that the explosion of conflict could have severe repercussions across the Middle East, threatening the stability of the region and risking further dangerous escalation.
ìThe WCC strongly urges all parties to immediately stop and reverse the escalation of the conflict and all use of the rhetoric of war,î the WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, said in a statement issued on 13 July 2006.
ìWe insist fully and firmly on the need for all parties to protect civilians ñ Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian ñ in accordance with international law. We call for an end to violent actions, condemning these actions including the destruction of roads, bridges and airport runways and the blockade by sea of Lebanon as is already the case in Gaza," the statement says.
Implementation of international law is "the essential alternative to the cycle of incursions, occupations, violent counter-attacks and international inaction that now looms over the Middle East again," the statement underlines.
Recent WCC calls for equitable Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over Gaza and generally are also reiterated.
"Is there ever to be an end to violence in the land we call holy," asks the National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service, its humanitarian partner agency, in a statement issued today following days of unchecked death and destruction in the Middle East.
"What has violence solved these last 60 years? What has violence solved these past weeks," the statement also asked as the NCC and CWS called for an immediate cessation of attacks on all sides. The statement urges the United States government and other nations, "recognizing the success of former peace initiatives," to seek non-violent solutions with the assistance of the United Nations for all the parties in the region.
The NCC and CWS also urged their 35 member Christian churches to "pray for all those who have suffered and died as a result of this violence, and their families and communities, and to engage in humanitarian and advocacy actions for peace."
[Also on Ekklesia: Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; The Forgotten Church [File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat]; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Faith groups back alternatives to detention of migrants events organised in the Lebanon, USA, Canada, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, India, Australia etc.; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East; Global faith gathering tackles religious roots of terror]