In a statement issued on the eve of the new year, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged all those who have the power to end the spiralling violence in Gaza to do so. “I want to express my grief and sympathy for the innocent lives lost,” he wrote. “People of all faiths in this country will want to join their voices to the statements of the Christian Muslim Forum and the Council of Christians and Jews in urging a return to the ceasefire and efforts to secure a lasting peace.”Archbishop Willliams noted that these events tragically illustrate “the fact that the cycle of mutual threat and retaliation have no lasting effect except to reinforce the misery and insecurity of everyone in the region…. Those raising the stakes through the continuation of indiscriminate violence seem to have forgotten nothing and learned nothing. It must surely be clear that, whilst peace will not wipe out the memory of all past wrongs, it is the only basis for the future flourishing of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.”He added that “urgent humanitarian needs have arisen through the attacks on Gaza and Israel and they demand a generous response to local appeals for support, such as that issued by the Anglican diocese of Jerusalem for its hospital in Gaza. But this humanitarian response, both local and international, needs to be matched by redoubled efforts in the political sphere.” Archbishop Williams’ statement suggested that the outgoing and incoming presidents of the United States might work together to help achieve a truce in the conflict. “The Anglican Communion worldwide stands alongside other religious communities and humanitarian organizations in its commitment to supporting any such initiative. Without such a sign of hope, the future for the Holy Land and the whole region is one of more fear, innocent suffering and destruction.”There was no sign that such calls for a return to a ceasefire were heard on the first day of the new year. The Globe and Mail reported that Israeli warplanes carried out 60 sorties against Hamas targets on Jan. 1, hitting Gaza’s parliamentary buildings, other government structures, a mosque, the homes of a dozen alleged Hamas operatives as well a number of the tunnels to Egypt that have served to bring in supplies and weapons. The death toll among Gazans was reported to have risen to more than 400 with 2,000 injured. Four Israelis have died in rocket attacks and dozens have been injured since Israel launched its attacks on Dec. 27.