The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Loraine N Mellor and Jill Baker, have released the following statement following the recent violence on the Gaza-Israel border.
We are horrified by the violence that has taken place on the eastern border of Gaza in the past days, and deeply troubled by what appears to be a steady escalation in the situation. We appeal to all sides to step back urgently from actions that can only lead to more suffering, and to seek peaceful solutions.
The deaths of a reported 18 Palestinians as a result of shooting by the Israeli Defence Forces have shocked the world. While Israel has invoked its right to protect its border, reports suggest that live rounds were used against many unarmed protesters and hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators were hit and injured.
The killing of unarmed protesters is unacceptable in any circumstance and a crime against humanity. The Government of Israel is bound by the same standards of international law as any other nation. Live rounds must never be used except in the most critical circumstances to protect life.
The situation in Gaza was already desperate. The cut in funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) means families just do not have enough food to live on. Clinics and hospitals were already reporting a huge rise in child malnutrition and have said that 80 commonly-used medicines are simply not available.
Electricity is on for four hours a day and water in many areas of Gaza is undrinkable. Reports of Hamas fighters being armed for further conflict have been greeted with dismay by the civilian population itself.
We pray for a resolution of the conflict in the region, for the end to occupation and a just resolution for Palestinian refugees.
We call on the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and all regional and international powers to do everything possible to prevent a further slide into conflict and bloodshed, to provide humanitarian aid, and to revive the stalled reconstruction of Gaza.