World Council of Churches (WCC) Statement on the War in Palestine and Israel


Source: World Council of Churches (WCC)

Statement on the War in Palestine and Israel

The World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on 8-14 November, released a statement that demands an immediate ceasefire, and the opening of humanitarian corridors in Palestine and Israel.

A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.

(Jeremiah 31:15)

We look to the Holy Land with a heavy heart, for all the death, destruction and trauma being inflicted on the people of the land. We listen to the cries of innocent children, women and men, who suffer so grievously and unjustly from this brutal violence. We lament with all who suffer – Israelis bereaved, held hostage or otherwise affected by the attacks on 7 October, the people of Gaza displaced from their homes, grieving for loved ones buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings, and enduring continuous intense bombardment.

We yearn for peace and for justice, for an end to the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering, and for its fundamental root causes to be addressed. We lament the abject failure of the international community and of political leaders in the region who did not persist in the search for a sustainable peace founded on justice and mutual respect for the equal human dignity and rights of all, and who kept the cycle of violence turning. As we stand on this precipice of morality and faith, we pray for peace, for justice, for wisdom, for understanding, and for restoration of our humanity.

The World Council of Churches joins in the international shock and outrage at the brutal attacks on Israeli communities by Hamas militants on 7 October 2023. We condemn the attacks on civilians, the killing of so many innocent children, women and men, as well as the taking of hostages and the use of civilians as human shields.

Examining the current situation in Gaza, under attack from Israeli armed forces, the WCC together with the churches of the region are outraged by and condemn Israel’s disproportionate retaliation. We have seen the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, hospitals, churches and mosques by Israeli forces. The death toll has surpassed 11,000 - over two thirds of them children and women - and the number of injured 37,000. Attacks on churches and their institutions, including shelters for displaced civilians – especially children and women who have lost their homes due to Israeli airstrikes on residential areas since the war began – are totally unacceptable.

Additionally, in the West Bank – from where participants in WCC’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) were evacuated in mid-October due to the war and the closure of the West Bank – we are witnessing unprecedented high levels of violence from the occupation, against Palestinian civilians, schools and communities by both settlers and Israeli armed forces, and closure of access to all Palestinian villages.

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on 8-14 November 2023, lifts up before our loving and merciful God the suffering and traumatized people in the land of Jesus Christ’s birth. We highlight the lifelong and potentially inter-generational consequences of the terrible trauma that children in both Palestine and Israel are experiencing. We lament that the heads of churches in Jerusalem, due to the current circumstances of the war, concluded that they had to cancel the celebrations of Advent and Christmas. We pray for peace in the land, a sustainable and just peace founded at last on recognition and respect for the God-given human dignity and equal human rights of all people – Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike – rather than a false ‘peace’ imposed by occupation and force of arms which cannot and should not be sustained.