Photo credit: Ahmed Abu Hameeda / Unsplash

IT IS VITAL not to return to the status quo with Palestine and Israel after a desperately needed ceasefire, a range of church, faith and human rights organisations are urging.

The responses came after what looks like an end to immediate armed hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians announced earlier this morning – an asymmetric conflict in which the vast majority of the deaths and nearly all the destruction has been on the Palestinian side in illegally occupied territory.

Among the reactions, William Bell, head of Middle East for the UK churches’ agency Christian Aid, said: “We welcome the ceasefire and hope and pray that all parties abide by it. One life lost is too many.”

He continued: “Now it is imperative that the international community afford all help necessary to support the immediate humanitarian needs of the Palestinians in Gaza and begin the long process of reconstruction.

“The best way to begin this process would be to lift the blockade on Gaza which for too long has stifled life for two million people. And there must be clear political will to address the underlying causes of why the cycle of violence repeats itself so often.

“There can be no going back to the status quo ante, in the effort to build a lasting peace based on justice, dignity and equality for all.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Amos Trust said: “We welcome the news of today’s ceasefire. Since 10 May, 230 people have been killed including 63 children, and at least 1,700 injured. Over 75,000 people have fled their homes, either destroyed or damaged by Israeli air strikes. In Israel, 12 people have died and 800 injured as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.

“Waves of unrest have spread across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There has also been widespread unrest in the Palestinian communities inside Israel. In scenes that many of us have not witnessed before, Palestinians are uniting in their demand for their rights and an end to the attacks on Gaza.”

* Sources: agencies and Christian Aid, Amos Trust