Gaza: Statement of U.S. Churches and Christian Agencies
April 12, 2018 — Members of the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy, a network of Christian denominations and organizations working for a just peace in the region, issue the following statement on the latest violence at the Gaza border fence.
Right of Refugees, Right to Demonstrate Peacefully, Right to Dignity
A Statement of U.S. Churches and Christian Agencies on Gaza
- We oppose in no uncertain terms the use of violence against the protesters, especially the lethal use of weapons and force by the Israeli military, and call for it to end that practice. We support the call by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, to Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to shoot when it said, “Soldiers must not be ordered to use lethal force other than in life-threatening situations. As a rule, demonstrations inside the Gaza Strip, approaching the fence or even sabotaging it, do not constitute such situations. … [W]hen the government betrays its soldiers’ trust and arms them with unlawful orders, we are here to remind not only of the rules of morality but also of legal requirements: A patently unlawful order must not be obeyed.”
- We call for an investigation into the deaths and injuries suffered resulting from the use of force.
- We concur with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who recently has said “Violence against civilians - in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "the Court"), as could the use of civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities…. My Office will continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force. I urge all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this tragic situation.”
- We call upon the United States, and particularly President Trump and members of Congress, to censure the violent and indiscriminate actions of the State of Israel in response to the demonstrations which in no way threaten the security of the state or its citizens, and to hold Israel appropriately accountable, ensuring that US aid isn’t used in ways that contravene established US and international laws, given the more than $3 billion in military aid the U.S. disburses to Israel annually.
- We call on the U.S. to support the rights of refugees, including Palestinian refugees, based on international law and conventions, through the fora in which the U.S. participates.
- In keeping with the imperative to support refugees’ rights, we call upon the United States to resume its full funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which supports schools, hospitals, and other essential services for Palestinian refugees. The U.S. recently announced that it would provide $60 million to UNRWA with no assurance of further funding for 2018. If the U.S. provides no additional funds in 2018, this would mean an 83 percent funding cut over the 2017 contribution of $365 million.
- We call upon the international community, including the U.S. government, to insist on an end to the blockade of Gaza, which has resulted in uninhabitable conditions for the people there, including poverty and lack of sufficient access to clean water, food, medicine and medical supplies, electricity, fuel, and construction equipment. The United Nations concluded as early as 2012 that Gaza was on track to be unlivable by 2020, and noted in 2017 that the trends of deterioration had accelerated.
Alliance of Baptists
American Friends Service Committee
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
National Council of Churches
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi USA
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Reformed Church in America
The Episcopal Church
The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Church of Christ