WSCF statement on worsening situation in Gaza

July 18th, 2014 10:52 am

We refuse to abandon our humanity.
We will never become blind, deaf, dumb, and unthinking.

Gaza and the curious Israeli “equality”

What to condemn? What to understand? What to promote? … What is the reality in Palestine?

The World Student Christian recently held an inter-regional programme on Overcoming Violence in the Middle East and visited Palestine to “come and see” more about the realities there. Hosted by our student Christian movement in Palestine, the Palestinian Youth Ecumenical Movement (PYEM), our students shared their vision for peace, and for justice, and their commitment to work with Muslim, and Jewish, sisters and brothers in the region and all people committed to just peace around the world for the full humanity of the Palestinian, and Israeli, people.

As the violence in Gaza increases we cannot stay silent but must join the World Council of Churches and many others in condemning the extreme violence by the Israeli government and express our concern for the lives, dignity, and humanity of the Palestinian, and Israeli, people. We will bring the situation of Palestine to our upcoming General Assembly for a more specific policy definition.

Background

Three young Israelis were kidnapped and killed in Halhoul, West Bank, between the 12th and 30th of June 2014.

Tuesday 1st of July, a Palestinian youth was kidnapped, tortured, doused with gasoline, forced to drink gasoline, lit on fire, and therefore burned alive from the inside and outside by Israelis as an act of revenge for the deaths of the Israeli youths, which has been confirmed by Israeli police.

These terrible events are a police affair for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Some days later, a group declaring to be a part of ISIS (newly self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in Palestine declared themselves responsible for the murders.

The Israeli government has subsequently declared that the responsible party was a Hamas group, without sharing proof, and declared that they were going to punish all those responsible.

Our Questions

There are many questions in our minds around this affair.

How can it be possible to know that Hamas is responsible if the full investigation has not been performed or completed? Is the Israeli government taking political decisions in place of a more mature police investigation of the murders?

If Hamas were responsible, why would they not declare publically that they were responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the three young Israelis as they have with past actions by militants of Hamas?

A month ago the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement with Hamas unifying the Palestinian nation. The only government publically against it was the Israeli government; they responded in May by withholding tax money due to the Palestinian Authority and they once again stopped their participation in the peace process re-launched with the mediation of the United States. Do these actions reflect a desire for peace or for further occupation of Palestine?

In a normal situation between two countries the two police services should cooperate to find the murderers, but in a situation with an occupying power and occupied people, is collaboration even possible?

How to explain that the surgical bombardments (drones, missiles, aerial forces) have killed at least 233 people and wounded more than 1530 Palestinians? How can the destruction of so many people, as well as their houses and land, be justified? Are there as many people guilty of the murders?

Why, when Israeli forces attack Palestinians, is the civil Palestinian infrastructure one of their principle targets?

Who wants to destroy the hope and dignity of this population? How can we talk about proportionality between the extreme force applied by the Israeli government and the answer by Hamas? Can we understand the extreme situation to be pushing the Palestinians to extreme, desperate reactions?

Why does the Israeli government not respect United Nations resolutions and international law? If these are not used as a basis for a peace settlement, where is the basis to be found? Are we relegated to accept the “law of the strongest”?

Why does the world sit by helplessly in the face of such violence, loss of life, and assault to the agreed-upon principles of law, justice, and civilization?

On the 17th of July 2014 young children were playing football on the beach and were killed by Israeli missiles, the first while Israeli war ships were passing by and the other 3 after they began running away, all in view of British journalists. At least 5 others were wounded. We ask again, are these young children playing on a beach guilty of the Israeli murders? What is the true purpose of the continuing Israeli offensive?

Is all this not one more signal of a genocide?

Our Call and Our Commitment

The students in our student Christian movement in Palestine and the World Student Christian Federation call for a cessation of violence by the Israeli government and commit to join all peace-loving people seeking true peace with justice in the region.

We encourage those caught in the midst of these two warring parties to reject the continual cycle of retribution and retaliation that continues to fuel violence in the region, the principle victims of which are civilians and many of whom are children.

History teaches us that violence only leads to death and destruction. Retaliation always bears bitter fruit, and pushes the hope for peace further away from fruition. We urge all parties to cease this cycle of violence and sit down together in the cause of peace, not revenge.

The cycle of violence and injustice must be stopped to open new possibilities for peace and prosperity for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Our Prayer

…written on a piece of wrapping paper near the body of a dead child in Ravensbruck where 92,000 women and children died, 1945:

O Lord,
remember not only the men and women of goodwill,
but also those of ill will.
But do not only remember the suffering they have
inflicted on us,
remember the fruits we bought thanks to this suffering,
our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility,
the courage, the generosity,
the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this.
And when they come to judgment
let all the fruits that we have borne
be their forgiveness. AMEN AMEN AMEN

 

 

Christine Housel, general secretary
Horacio Mesones, chairperson
18 July 2014

World Student Christian Federation – Europe
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