The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is calling for leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence and seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.
“You can’t look at the pictures coming from Gaza and Israel without your heart breaking. We must cry to God and beat down the doors of heaven and pray for peace and justice and security,” his statement began.
Welby, who worked in conflict resolution and peace-building in war-torn areas before becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, called for an “open-hearted seeking of peace” on both sides for the sake of protecting innocent people from worsening violence. “For all sides to persist with their current strategy, be it threatening security by the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian areas or aerial bombing which increasingly fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, is self-defeating. The bombing of civilian areas, and their use to shelter rocket launches, are both breaches of age-old customs for the conduct of war,” he wrote.
“Further political impasse, acts of terror, economic blockades or sanctions and clashes over land and settlements, all increase the alienation of those affected,” he continued. “Populations condemned to hopelessness or living under fear will be violent. Such actions create more conflict, more deaths and will in the end lead to an even greater disaster than the one being faced today. The road to reconciliation is hard, but ultimately the only route to security. It is the responsibility of all leaders to protect the innocent, not only in the conduct of war but in setting the circumstances for a just and sustainable peace.”
Welby called on Anglicans in England and throughout the global Anglican Communion to pray for the people in the region and to support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s emergency appeal and humanitarian relief efforts.
He also addressed the issue of a spike in violence and abuse against Jewish communities in the U.K. “While it is acceptable to question and even disagree with particular policies of the Israeli government, the spike in violence and abuse against Jewish communities here in the UK is simply unacceptable. We must not allow such hostility to disrupt the good relations we cherish among people of all faiths.”