The escalating violence in the Gaza strip prompted the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to release a statement of concern that urged “Israelis and Palestinians alike” to break the cycle of violence through “mutual understanding and compassion.” The statement, released on Oct. 14, 2004, reiterated the LWF’s stance on the region’s violence, and expressed support for the implementation of the “Road Map” to maintain peace.
“The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is deeply concerned over the escalating violence in the Gaza strip during recent days. The LWF supports a call by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem earlier this month, urging both Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence, and endorses their appeal for prayers for peace in the Holy Land,” the letter began.
The decades-long violence in the region escalated in recent years with the construction of the Israeli “separation barrier” in contested territories. Despite the wall, suicide bombers have been successful in entering Jerusalem and taking the lives of hundreds of victims. Israel’s latest military operation is reportedly aimed at eliminating the threat of homemade rockets being fired by the militant Hamas group on an Israeli town beyond the northeastern borders of Gaza.
In his letter, Noko reaffirmed the LWF’s “categorical opposition to any attack on civilians, collective punishment, promotion of hatred of the other, policies that undermine the ‘Road Map,’ and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.”
The following is the full text of Noko’s statement:
Statement by the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation on the Situation in the Gaza Region
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is deeply concerned over the escalating violence in the Gaza strip during recent days. The LWF supports a call by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem earlier this month, urging both Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence, and endorses their appeal for prayers for peace in the Holy Land.
The bloody cycle of attack and counter-attack will not bring peace for either community. And while the children of Abraham remain in enmity and conflict, the whole world is divided. This cycle of violence in Israel-Palestine can only be broken by dialogue, mutual understanding and compassion.
The LWF reiterates its long-held position supporting a two-state solution, based on the negotiated establishment of a viable Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. Equally, the LWF reaffirms its categorical opposition to any attack on civilians, collective punishment, promotion of hatred of the other, and policies that undermine the Road Map, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian State.
It is the LWF’s earnest hope that the Government of Israel and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority would lead their peoples on the path of peace. The LWF urges both Israelis and Palestinians alike to seek the path of peace, rather than war, for the sake of their children and the children of the world. We call on the international community - especially the Quartet of the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations – to do all in their power to restrain both sides of this conflict from actions that only fuel violence rather than the much-needed peace. How many more children must die before the international community demonstrates political resolve to stop this despicable, continuous violence that has cost so many innocent human lives?
Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko
14 October 2004