Gaza, Israel and Lebanon crises are imperilling Middle East security
The crisis in the Middle East is deepening as civilians in Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip continue to pay with their lives amid the conflict, churches and Christian agencies in the region are warning.
Christian Aid says the stability of the entire region is under threat as Israel responds to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers by the militant group Hezbollah with aerial attacks on Lebanon. Hezbollah has retaliated with rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
More than 200 Lebanese citizens, 24 Israelis and more than 80 Palestinians have been killed in the last fortnight, according to reports. Scores of others have been injured and thousands of Lebanese displaced.
Civilians in northern Israel are also spending much of the day in air-raid shelters to avoid Hezbollah rockets.
Church organisations and NGOs are deeply concerned about the humanitarian need of displaced people in Lebanon and those stricken by fuel and water shortages caused by Israeli incursions in Gaza.
Ameer Makhoul of Ittijah based in Haifa, Israel, comments: ìFrom a peaceful and secure country, Lebanon has become a shattered country. Lebanon is in urgent need of relief support in order to face the challenges related to displacement and injuries.î
Continues Makhoul: ìWe call upon the international community to intervene immediately to protect civilians. We are working towards affirming that human life is precious irrespective of nationality or religion.î
Non-governmental organisations and volunteers in Lebanon have been directing their efforts to meeting the needs of displaced people by providing food and makeshift shelters around the country.
ìThere have been more than 26,000 displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes,î Makhoul told Christian Aid.
ìWe [ask] our international partners, with whom we have worked extensively in the time of peace for the purposes of development in Lebanon, to answer the immediate needs of the Lebanese people,î he added.
[Also on Ekklesia: Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks 18/07/06; 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]