There are calls for a global day of prayer and fasting tomorrow (Tuesday 17 October) for peace and reconciliation.
The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, including the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum, have signed a joint statement on the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
In the letter, they said:
“Our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic level and death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.
“The order to evacuate the north of Gaza and to ask 1.1 million people – including all the members of our Christian communities there – to relocate to the south within 24 hours will only deepen an already disastrous humanitarian catastrophe. Gaza’s entire population is being deprived of electricity, water, fuel supplies, food and medicine. According to UN sources, 423,000 people have already been displaced because of the destruction of their homes. Many civilians in Gaza have said to us that there are no realistic ways in which they can evacuate to safety in any direction.
“We call upon the State of Israel, with the support of the International Community, to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza so that the thousands of innocent victims may receive medical treatment and basic supplies. Moreover, we call upon all parties to de-escalate this war in order to save innocent lives while still serving the cause of justice.
“Finally, in support of all those who have suffered in this war and of all the families reeling from the violence, we call upon the people of our congregations and all those of goodwill around the world to observe a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Tuesday, October 17th. There is yet time to stop the hatred.”
In a personal letter Archbishop Hosam Naoum, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, said:
“Once again we find ourselves living through hard times In the Land or the Holy One, where we are surrounded by war, violence, hatred, and destruction. Many in our region now live with great fear and uncertainty.
“Nevertheless, from Jerusalem, the City of the Resurrection, I send you all hope for the assurance of a better life: one with a brighter future, mare blessed circumstances, and freedom from bloodshed, injustice, and death.
“We condemn all acts of violence and killing, especially of civilians and the innocent. And we advocate for a just and comprehensive peace for all living here. In order to stop the vengeful cycle of violence, we exhort everyone to exercise self-control. Since everyone loses in war, we also call for all parties to pursue peaceful, diplomatic solutions towards a just and lasting agreement for both peoples in a two-state solution. Only in this way can we all enjoy freedom, Justice, and peace.
“To this end, we pray without ceasing for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war. We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers in our countries and around the world, For we are in dire need or hearts that love, show mercy, and are willing to live in unity with others – hearts that respect human dignity and choose llfe rather than death.
“We therefore all upon all our congregations, institutions, and parishioner families to join with our sister Churches in the Land of the Holy One In observing this coming Tuesday, October 17th as a day or Fasting and Prayer for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the war. We suggest organising prayer services and / or joining with other congregations in their services so that we can pray together with one heart and spirit.
“We entrust the countries of our Lord’s earthly home into the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, asking him to have mercy on us all and to give us his peace and blessing. Amen.”
This statements follow a letter on Friday from the Archbishop of Canterbury, which you can see below:
“Our grief and shock only grows greater as more devastating news and images emerge from the abhorrent terrorist attacks in Israel. The agonising suffering endured by those who were targeted and their families can scarcely be imagined. Our hearts are broken open by the grief of Israelis and our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world, for whom this trauma and loss stands in the dark and terrible shadow of the worst days of their history.
“I beg that those who have been taken hostage are set free into safety, that they and their loved ones might be released from the horror of their captivity. The anger felt by the people of Israel at the cruelty they have experienced is entirely justified. Many around the world share in that anger.
“But in the face of a ground offensive in Gaza, I plead that the sins of Hamas are not borne by the citizens of Gaza, who themselves have faced such suffering over many decades. The price of evil cannot be paid by the innocent. Civilians cannot bear the costs of terrorists. International humanitarian law recognises that, for the sake of everyone’s humanity, some acts can never be permissible in the chaos of warfare. I pray that Israel does everything it can to limit the harm caused to innocent civilians.
“Over two million civilians in Gaza, half of them children, are facing a catastrophe. A humanitarian corridor and convoy are needed as rapidly as possible, as set out in the Geneva Conventions. I pray particularly for the Anglican-run Ahli Arab Hospital and all those caring for the injured, who need medical supplies and generator fuel.
“I join with the US Secretary of State and others in urging the Israeli government to exercise their right of defence with the wisdom that might break the cycles of violence under which generations have struggled. Amidst the chaos and confusion of war, and as much as is possible, I join the calls for Israel’s military response to be proportional and to discriminate between civilians and Hamas.
“Pray for the people of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Pray for the future of the Holy Land. Pray for those who will weep, and fear, and die tonight.
“Lord God, we pray, by your great mercy, defend your children from all perils and dangers of this night.”