|Pope Francis with Jewish Rabbi and Muslim Imman at Wailing Wall|
In early July, Israel launched airstrikes into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, killing more than 40 Palestinians -- including children, elderly and militants -- in a circle of escalating violence that began with the discovery of the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teens and the brutal apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teen. The Israeli offensive, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, has hit hundreds of targets, while more than 100 missiles have been launched into southern Israel, reaching into the center of the country and Jerusalem as well. The ordinaries, who include Catholic bishops and the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, called the situation in Gaza "an illustration of the never-ending cycle of violence in the absence of a vision for an alternative future."
They criticized Israeli "leadership that continues to foster a discriminatory discourse promoting exclusive rights of one group and the occupation with all of its disastrous consequences. Settlements are built, lands are confiscated, families are separated, loved ones are arrested and even assassinated. The occupation leadership seems to believe that the occupation can be victorious by crushing the will of the people for freedom and dignity. They seem to believe that their determination will ultimately silence opposition and transform wrong into right." "Resistance to occupation cannot be equated with terrorism," they said. "Resistance to occupation is a legitimate right, terrorism is part of the problem." The church leaders said the mourned all those, Israeli and Palestinians, who had died. "Some of their faces are well known because the media have covered in detail their lives, interviewing their parents, bringing them alive in our imaginations, whereas others -- by far more numerous -- are mere statistics, nameless and faceless. The selective coverage, mourning and memory are themselves part of the cycle of violence," they said.
The church leaders also said the "violent language of the Palestinian street that calls for vengeance is fed by the attitudes and expressions of those who have despaired of any hope to reach a just solution to the conflict through negotiations. Those who seek to build a totalitarian, monolithic society, in which there is no room for any difference or diversity, gain popular support, exploiting this situation of hopelessness. To these we also say: Violence as a response to violence breeds only more violence." "We need radical change," they said. "Israelis and Palestinians together need to shake off the negative attitudes of mutual mistrust and hatred."
The complete statement can be found at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/07/09/holy_land_a_call_for_courageous_change/1102679