THE World Council of Churches (WCC) is standing in solidarity with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which issued a statement on 31 October condemning the Israeli military’s bombardment of the Orthodox Cultural Centre in the Tel Al Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza.

In this statement, the Patriarchate emphasises that this attack represents a stark embodiment of Israel’s unwarranted determination to destroy the civil infrastructure and social service centres, as well as shelters for civilians trapped in the besieged enclave. “The Patriarchate highlights that social, cultural, and sports centres have become vital providers of essential humanitarian services and safe havens for those affected by Israeli airstrikes targeting residential areas,” reads the statement. “The Patriarchate further expressed that this assault on the Orthodox Cultural Centre and its service facilities constitutes a direct and unjustified attack on one of the pillars of culture and social services in Gaza.”

The Patriarchate also noted with grave concern that the Israeli military has targeted 19 places of worship, including mosques and churches in Gaza. “Such attacks on civilians, particularly children, and the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure, cannot be justified on rational or humanitarian grounds and are fundamentally at odds with even the most basic moral values”, reads the statement. “The Patriarchate reiterates its firm demand for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and pledges to continue its international efforts to achieve this goal as soon as possible.”

WCC General Secretary, the Rev Prof Dr Jerry Pillay expressed solidarity with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are in clear violation of international law,” said Pillay. “We stand with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and many around the world who are calling to protect places of refuge, and to stop injuring and killing innocent people.”

* Read the full statement here.

* Sources: World Council of Churches and  Patriarchate of Jerusalem