Christian World Service has strongly condemned the violence in Gaza that has left close to 60 people dead and many more injured.
For the last six weeks, tens of thousands of people have gathered on the border with Israel to highlight the injustice of their situation. Most of the two million residents of Gaza have no way out of the tiny enclave. Around two thirds are Palestinian refugees or the descendants of those forced from their homes in 1948 or subsequent wars.
“In the lead up to today’s seventieth anniversary of the Nakba or Day of Catastrophe as it is known to Palestinians, Gaza’s majority refugee community sought to remind people of rights that have been well recognised by the United Nations. The opening of an embassy in Jerusalem is a provocation. It shatters any hope of a two state solution and effectively removes the United States as a fair arbiter of peace talks,” says Trish Murray, International Programmes Director.
Every year Palestinians mark the day Israel was founded which led to the forced displacement of 700,000 – 800,000 Palestinians.
CWS encourages all people to push governments to redouble their efforts towards a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis to live free from violence with their rights respected and with respect for their dignity and security.
“The Palestinians I have met have a deep longing for peace. They want the conflict to end. My hope is that these actions will help many more people understand the terrible strain the people of Gaza live with and push for the recognition of the basic human rights of all involved,” she adds.
Trish Murray has visited Gaza on three occasions to monitor development programmes supported by CWS, most recently last year.
Life in Gaza has become unbearable. The water is too saline to drink. There is electricity for up to four hours a day. According to the World Bank, unemployment is 44%.
“When I visited Gaza shortly before the attack by Israel in 2014, new businesses were opening and the people were hopeful. Last year when I met with our partner, staff were doing their utmost to remain positive despite the high pressure for services in an increasingly difficult context,” she adds.
CWS supports the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees running, three primary medical clinics, providing vocational education and emergency support in some of the poorest neighbourhoods. Last year DSPR Gaza reached 38,335 children in the clinics.
CWS condemns all forms of violence against civilian populations and believes these most recent attacks should be independently investigated. CWS supports the legitimate rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live alongside each other.
CWS is the official aid and development agency of the Aotearoa New Zealand churches, and a member of ACT Alliance a global coalition of more than 145 churches and church-related organisations working together on humanitarian aid, development and advocacy in over 100 countries.