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Published on 15 December 2023

Only a permanent ceasefire can deliver sufficient aid and demonstrate our collective sense of humanity.

The human cost of conflict in the Middle East

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.

Israel’s military response to the atrocities by Hamas on 7 October, 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.

Learn more about our appeal and response to the conflict in the Middle East.
Image credits and information i
Palestinians evacuate the area following an Israeli airstrike on the Sousi mosque in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. Israel continued to battle Hamas fighters on October 9 and massed tens of thousands of troops and heavy armour around the Gaza Strip. Credit: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP via Getty Images
A woman in Gaza carries her child over rubble.

UK government's response and concerns

 

Since 7 October, 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.

Ceasefire: a prerequisite for peace

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.

Image credits and information i
Ceasefire now projected onto the UK Parliament Credit: Christian Aid
Ceasefire now projected onto the UK Parliament

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
Middle East Crisis Action

Join us in calling on the UK Government to do all it can to ensure peace.

Signatories for joint statement on Middle East crisis

Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary Churches Together in England
Revd Gill Newton, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
Deacon Kerry Scarlett, Vice-President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary, The Baptist Union of Great Britain
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
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
Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Revd 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