CHRISTIAN AID, along with other Christian churches and organisations, have issued a joint statement saying only a permanent ceasefire can deliver sufficient aid to Gaza.
The 21 Christian organisations also call for the immediate release of all hostages. Their leaders say both sides have flouted international laws designed to protect civilians and prevent atrocities, including blocking humanitarian aid and the disproportionate use of force.
The statement says: “We have grave concerns about the use of arms supplied by the UK to Israel, in possible breach of international humanitarian law. Without a permanent ceasefire, there can be no comprehensive humanitarian response, in which people can start to rebuild their lives. And without a ceasefire, the foundations cannot be laid for a sustainable and just peace, in which all people in Israel and Palestine can live in security and with dignity.
“Every war is a defeat, and there is no military solution to this crisis. The longer the killing continues, the harder it will be to reach a durable post-conflict settlement.”
The statement goes on to say that the UK government has yet to unequivocally condemn Israel for the mass killing of civilians in Gaza in the same way it condemned Hamas for its atrocities.
It says the UK government should support the International Criminal Court (ICC), to investigate all allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by any party involved in the conflict.
Full text of letter and signatories:
Only a permanent ceasefire can deliver sufficient aid and demonstrate our collective sense of humanity.
As Christmas approaches, we the undersigned church leaders and Christian organisations continue to pray for all those people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, who are enduring immense suffering in the Holy Land. As we prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace, who was born in a temporary shelter, and became a child refugee, we cannot ignore the desperate situation facing almost two million people uprooted from their homes, nor abandon our call for equal rights and a just peace: for Jews and Arabs, Israelis, and Palestinians.
Israel’s military response to the atrocities by Hamas on October 7th, in which 1,200 people were killed in southern Israel, has killed many thousands of innocent civilians in Gaza, including over 7,000 children. 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes and are living in overcrowded schools, UN compounds, or on the streets. More than 46,000 homes have been destroyed, winter is setting in, and disease is spreading rapidly.
The aid response urgently needs to be scaled up to reduce human suffering and avert the risk of sickness, malnutrition, and death. And while there has been significant progress in the release of hostages, many Israeli and international civilians remain captive inside Gaza.
Since October 7th, the internationally-agreed laws designed to protect civilians in war, and to prevent atrocities, which are laid out in the Geneva Conventions appear to have been widely flouted by both sides. This includes the blocking of humanitarian aid, the deliberate targeting of civilians, the taking of hostages, the disproportionate use of force, the forcible transfer of civilians, and the use of siege tactics.
The UK government should be consistent and unwavering in its calls for all parties to armed conflict to uphold international law. It has rightly condemned the atrocities of Hamas. It is yet to unequivocally condemn the mass killing by Israel of civilians in Gaza, or the denial of humanitarian access. Furthermore, we have grave concerns about the use of arms supplied by the UK to Israel, in possible breach of international humanitarian law.
Without a permanent ceasefire, there can be no comprehensive humanitarian response, in which people can start to rebuild their lives. And without a ceasefire, the foundations cannot be laid for a sustainable and just peace, in which all people in Israel and Palestine can live in security and with dignity. Every war is a defeat, and there is no military solution to this crisis. The longer the killing continues, the harder it will be to reach a durable post-conflict settlement.
We therefore call for:
- An immediate, unconditional, and permanent ceasefire.
- The unconditional and immediate release of all hostages.
- The UK Government to actively call out any actions or use of language by those in positions of power that contribute to or seek to justify forcible transfer, ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, and other causes of civilian suffering.
- UK support for international accountability mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), to investigate all allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by any party to the conflict, and for the UK Government to contribute funding to an ICC investigation in a similar way to the support provided already by the UK to the ICC’s work on Ukraine.
- The UK Government to conduct a transparent review of arms and military components sold from the UK and used by the Israeli military, and to suspend licences and sales until it can demonstrate that no UK-manufactured arms have been used in violation of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary, Churches Together in England
The Rev Gill Newton, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
Deacon Kerry Scarlett, Vice-President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
The Rev Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
The Rev Lynn Green, General Secretary, The Baptist Union of Great Britain
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
The Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon, Director of Social Justice and Canon Chancellor, Diocese of Liverpool
Fr John Boles Director, Columban Missionaries in Britain
John Cooper, Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation in England & Scotland
Sue Claydon, Chair, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship
Archbishop William Nolan, Archbishop of Glasgow
The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
The Rev Lindsey Sanderson, Moderator Elect, United Reformed Church, National Synod of Scotland
Michael Hutchinson, Clerk of General Meeting for Scotland (Quakers)
Ruth Harvey, Leader, Iona Community
Jill Kent, Chair, Justice and Peace Scotland
Marian Pallister, Chair of Pax Christi Scotland
Jeff Williams, President, Union of Welsh independents
The Methodist Church in Ireland
Patrick Watt, CEO Christian Aid
Tim Livesey, CEO Embrace the Middle East
Charlotte Marshall, Director, Sabeel-Kairos UK
* Source: Christian Aid