NEW YORK: Every effort to protect innocent people in Gaza from being killed or injured must be made, and the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians must stop.
An immediate ceasefire should be entered into with an international, multinational monitoring presence dispatched to ensure compliance. Even more humanitarian aid must flow to those Palestinians who are in desperate need.
It is deeply mistaken to believe that the current path of armed conflict will bring peace. It will not. Violence breeds more violence, increases human suffering, and delays the long, hard work of building a just peace.
Peace can come to the Middle East, but only by honoring the rights of both the Palestinians and Israelis, facilitating painful but honorable compromises through sustained dialogue, and engaging the moral convictions shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims who know the Holy Land to be their common home.
Morally responsible Israelis and Palestinians know that the “right to self defence can never be used as an excuse for killing, harming or inflicting collective punishment on innocent civilians. These abuses fuel the spiral of violence.
In Gaza, scores of innocent civilians, including many children, have been killed over the last week and a half. Military action has dissected Gaza, with innocent civilians trapped in the crossfire. The entire population is under siege. Already desperately short of medicine, food and fuel, many residents in Gaza face an extremely grave humanitarian crisis, notwithstanding the critically important aid being delivered during the times of temporary ceasefire.
In Israel, innocent civilians continue to be mortally threatened by the ongoing rocket attacks against them. They have endured eight years of rocket attacks.
Neither the suffering of so many innocent Palestinians, nor the rocket attacks or suicide bombing targeting innocent Israelis can be justified. These acts are morally wrong, fuel cycles of violence and block the path to peace.
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders must initiate an immediate ceasefire. This ceasefire should be internationally monitored to ensure compliance. Additional urgently needed provisions and humanitarian supplies must be provided to the Palestinians in Gaza. At the same time, peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, with the full assistance of principled third parties, must begin.
Finally, Jews, Christians and Muslims, supported by the goodwill of believers of all religious faiths, should unite in their efforts to build peace. Religions for Peace knows that real security is “shared security, and that the other’s peace is also their own. In the Middle East, there will be no peace for anyone unless there is peace with justice for all.
Dr. William F. Vendleyis the Secretary General of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970, working in 70 countries in six continents. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from the author.