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Why Christians need to call for a ceasefire now

Vengeance begets vengeance, but Christians should be able to show that another way is possible, writes a Palestinian Christian journalist in Jordan.

FEATURES AUTOR 397/Daoud_Kuttab 30 DE OCTUBRE DE 2023 10:27 h
A Palestinian among bodies of people killed in the Gaza Strip. / Photo: [link]Wafa[/link], Wikimedia Commons, CC.

When the violence in and around Gaza erupted, we tried hard to find a way to get our two married daughters out of Jerusalem, one of whom was in her eighth month of pregnancy, and it was impossible to go to a hospital by car from where she lived because of the newly erected Israeli checkpoints.



After a few days, they managed to get to safety in Amman, Jordan. But no sooner than they arrived we got the shocking news from Gaza that an entire family of my daughter’s in-laws were killed when Israel shelled a building connected to the third oldest church in the world. Two beautiful women and their entire families were wiped out. They were ordered by the Israelis to go south of Gaza, but they knew no one there and had decided like others that a church building would provide protection.



The call therefore by many Christians for an immediate ceasefire doesn’t come from thin air.



[destacate]An entire family of my daughter’s in-laws were killed when Israel shelled a building connected to the third oldest church in the world[/destacate]The call for a ceasefire comes from the simple fact that we are pro-life. We cannot stand still while people are dying from hunger, thirst, lack of medical access, indiscriminate firing, access to fuel, etc.


People are starving. Schools, hospitals, bakeries... Civilians including women and children as well as medical staff, and NGO workers and leaders have all been killed in a revenge war. This raised the alarm of the UN, humanitarian agencies, and human rights organizations who issued statement after the other saying war crimes by Hamas can never justify war crimes by Israel. The law of war stipulates that civilians must be spared; bombing must not take place if it is not against a legitimate military objective. Early in this war an Israeli army spokesman publicly said that their actions against Palestinians in Gaza are based on the “emphasis of damage not accuracy. This came while Israel’s defense minister stated on October 9th (and implemented) a war crime of preventing water, electricity food, fuel, and medical supplies from 2.2 million Palestinians trapped in a small part of the occupied Palestinian territories.



Palestinians in Gaza are forced to leave their homes on order of Israel they are told it will be temporary. Most of the population of Gaza refugees and their descendants left their homes 75 years ago and have not been allowed to return. The call stroked memories of being refugees once more.



In fact, two Palestinian Christian villages in the north of Israel, Ikrit and Biram have still waiting since 1952 to return to their villages which they were ordered to temporarily evacuate because the Israeli army needed to carry out military maneuvers against armed persons from Lebanon. Even an Israeli court decision allowing them to return has yet to be honored. The story is detailed in Blood Brothers a book by a Melkite priest Father Elias Chacour.


 


[destacate]Even when Israeli attacks can be justified, according to the law of war, the injured civilians are no longer able to get medical care[/destacate]For many of the displaced, they are unable to find shelter. There's no safe zone either. Even when Israeli attacks can be justified and produce collateral damage, according to the law of war, the injured civilians are no longer able to get medical care. Medicine is running out and doctors are forced to use vinegar to ensure that cuts are not infected.


 


In addition to the situation in Gaza Palestinians have been suffering in Jerusalem the rest of the West Bank and Israel. Workers, students, and even medical personnel have been fired for having videos on their cell phones that reflect the tragedy in Gaza. Over 100 Palestinians have also been killed in the West Bank since October 7, as the Israeli army has changed the rules of engagement and Jewish settlers are allowed to rampage through Palestinian villages and towns.



Israelis are angry but instead of carrying out, as they proclaim a war on Hamas, they are carrying out acts of revenge. We all know that vengeance begets vengeance. Evil is in the heart of every one of us because we are all sinful. God does not call Christians to vengeance; rather, the Bible tells us that the Lord says, 'Vengeance is mine.'



Years of bombing Gaza yielded only more thirst for revenge in Gaza. In addition to 56 years under Israeli military occupation, Gaza has been under siege for the past 16 years. The Hamas fighters who went on a killing spree on October 7 had lived most of their adult lives under a suffocating siege and amid regular bombing campaigns.



[destacate]We all know that vengeance begets vengeance. Evil is in the heart of every one of us because we are all sinful[/destacate]We can discuss moral clarity, moral equivalence, state prerogatives, and just war, but the Lord said clearly in the Sermon on the Mount blessed are the peacemakers. This is our mandate. The conflict did not start on October 7. As many have said, Hamas' attack is without justification, but not without a cause. It has immediate causes and deeper roots. It is the result of a lack of peacemaking efforts.


 


As Christians who have experienced redemption through the Cross, we cannot hold to a zero-sum thinking - either the Israelis or the Palestinians. Because there is no zero-sum in God's Kingdom that is here and that is yet to come. Against all odds, we need to contribute to an inclusive, just peace where everyone is equal in dignity and rights. The call for an immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to be freely allowed to Palestinian civilians should be the uttermost goal of every Christian. This needs to be followed up immediately with serious negotiations to end the root causes of the conflict by means of allowing Palestinians to determine their own future in their own independent state. This is often referred to as the two-state solution but is rarely followed through at least with Western countries recognizing the Palestinian half of the two-state solution.



[destacate]Nothing shows our effort for peace more than a call by committed Christians for an immediate ceasefire by all parties[/destacate]Our pregnant daughter just gave birth to a boy whom they named Amir, the Arabic word for prince. The birth came with a prayer from all of us that the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ, will guide all Kings and rulers to enact peace and justice in the land where our Lord was born, died, and rose from the dead.


The faith and the hope of the resurrection must be our guidepost in all that we do as we pray and work for the end of conflicts following the call of Jesus to all of us to be peacemakers. Nothing shows our effort for peace more than a call by all, and certainly by committed Christians, for an immediate ceasefire by all parties in Israel and Palestine.



Daoud Kuttab, Palestinian Christian reporter and member of the Amman Baptist Church (Jordan). He is a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. He is the publisher of Milhilard, a Christian website in Jordan and Palestine, and a columnist with the US-based Almonitor.



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James
10/11/2023
09:06 h
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Who can ever disagree with your article. As humans, it is the logical and human thing to do, let alone our roles and beliefs as Christians. I have walked in solidarity with Muslims for this cause. As ignorant as I was about the past 75 years of oppression, theft, abuse, and murder of your people, after Oct 7th I have been absolutely focused on Palestine and the millions suffering there. It is so terrible that this could even happen. May God be with you and your people. We all stand with you
 



 
 
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