As Israel marks its 60th anniversary this May, for Israelis and Palestinians the conflict and the suffering continues, says Ben White. He believes that this landmark is an important opportunity for Christian leaders around the world to add their voices to a special call for a justice-based peace.
As the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel approaches, Western church leaders are putting their names to a historic joint declaration calling for a just peace in Palestine/Israel. Desmond Tutu is among signatories.
A group of senior British development agencies, including Christian Aid and CAFOD, have said the humanitarian situation in Gaza is worse now than at any time since 1967 and have denounced Israel's "collective punishment" policy.
As US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice travels to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the wake of the chaos occasioned by Israel's intervention in Gaza, senior US church figures have written calling for urgent action.
Supporters of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and On Earth Peace, an agency of the US Church of the Brethren, have visited the West Bank and Israel to explore civil society responses to conflict, security and community.
There are fears that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is set to worsen after a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, supported by church and other groups, failed to stop the government from stepping up its blockade of the territory.
Israeli authorities have released the bodies of two men shot by settlers to the Palestine Red Crescent Society for burial in their home community of Beit Ummar in the Hebron District - but the mourners were then fired on by the IDF.
Christian Aid and other church groups say that the breach of the border between Gaza and Egypt demonstrates the desperation of a people held hostage to both a policy of collective punishment and an inadequate peace process.
Following protests from civic, human rights and church groups, Israel has said that it will allow some fuel and medicine into the Gaza Strip - but only for one day. Its blockade has contributed to a large humanitarian crisis.
UK-based international development agency Christian Aid has welcomed US President George Bush’s statement on the Middle East calling for ‘an end to the occupation that began in 1967’, referring to Israel and Palestinian lands.