Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks
Galilee sites where Jesus lived and worked have been hit by Hezbollah rocket fire as fighting deepened between Israel and the militant movement which is based in Lebanon ñ writes Michele Green for Ecumenical News International.
Hezbollah rockets have hit targets near Nazareth, Jesus' childhood home town, as well as Tiberias and the banks of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
"I sat on a bench facing the Sea of Galilee with my grandson and son and heard two fall and a few seconds later we heard a great explosion and we understood that it had hit close by," the former mayor of Tiberias, Asher Yaish, told Israel's Channel One Television on after a recent rocket strike.
World Christian leaders including Pope Benedict XVI and the Rev Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, have expressed alarm at the new violence in northern Israel and in Lebanon. They have strongly urged all parties to immediately stop hostile acts.
The Pope noted on 16 July "the many victims among the civilian population". The roots of the conflict, he said, were found in "violations of rights and of justice". He urged both sides to seek resolution of those problems through negotiations. "No positive results can be achieved" through the cycle of attacks and reprisals, said Benedict.
Kobia declared that "the use of force and the harsh rhetoric of war are driving the new government of Israel and its neighbouring states deeper into a chasm of killings and destruction, and further away from the prospect of peace."
Nearly 200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 24 Israelis have been killed in six days of fighting triggered by rocket attacks and the capture of two Israel soldiers by Hezbollah that was followed by Israeli aerial bombardments of the militant group's strongholds. Attacks were also launched on Lebanese infrastructure in the southern suburbs of Beirut and southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has since attacked Haifa with rockets.
Israel authorities said a grandmother and her grandson eating the traditional Friday night Sabbath meal were killed by a rocket that hit their home by Mount Meron, a Jewish holy site near the Galilee town of Safed.
It was the first time that Tiberias, 32 kilometres from the Lebanese border, has been targeted by Hezbollah which Israel says has recently been armed by Iran and Syria with longer range rockets capable of reaching the lower Galilee and even Tel Aviv.
[Also on Ekkesia: Pope condemns Lebanon raids as G8 converges and Blair blames Iran and Syria 17/07/06; Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge 16/07/06; Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East; UK church and aid agencies concerned over Gaza situation; Presbyterians threatened over Israel policy; The Forgotten Church [File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat]; Global faith gathering tackles religious roots of terror]