Joint Oral Statement submitted by Caritas Internationalis (International Confederation of Catholic Charities) and co-signed by Dominicans for Justice and Peace (order of Preachers)
Caritas Internationalis and Dominicans for Justice and Peace express their deep concern on the renewed tensions in the Holy Land and the grave violations reported in the Gaza Strip which are exacerbating the already complex and urgent human rights and humanitarian situation for most civilians.
The whole population in the Gaza Strip is suffering and the loss of innocent civilian lives has been deplorable. Since the beginning of the hostilities, more than 600 people have been killed, over 4000 injured, amongst them many children and women , and more than 102,000 are displaced . The number of civilians killed and injured is growing every day.
Caritas Jerusalem – the Caritas member organization in the Holy Land, which provides basic primary health care services and humanitarian assistance to the affected population through a medical center with outreach services to six local health committees mainly composed by volunteers - reported that more than 15,000 houses of civilians and 30 medical centers have been destroyed by the airstrikes and 122 schools bombarded. They further inform that unexploded ordinances and explosive remnants of war present a major hazard to the population, particularly to children, when they leave their place of shelter to search for their belongings among the rubble of their destroyed houses.
Although Caritas continues its disaster relief and ongoing humanitarian assistance and development work in the area, movements inside Gaza have become dangerous as a result of frequent bombings being imposed on the local civilian populations. An immediate ceasefire is vital to help the citizens of Gaza and the Occupied Territories to preserve their human life and dignity.
During the special prayers for peace in Israel and Palestine, convened in the Vatican on June 8, 2014, Pope Francis said: “Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity”.
Hence, we urge both parties to take the courage to break out of the cycle of violence and to say yes to peace and no to violence and hatred to ensure a better future to their children.
Finally, in addressing this distinguished assembly we:
• Call on both parties to the conflict for an immediate ceasefire in order to enable humanitarian and medical relief supplies to reach people in need.
• To lift the blockade on Gaza lasting for the past 12 years and open the crossings from both the Egyptian and Israeli sides to ensure the freedom of movement and allow recovery efforts.
• Urge all parties to the conflict, Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups, to respect their obligations under the International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law to take all measures to protect the lives of civilians from both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, and refrain from targeting civil objects and populated areas.
• Call on the international community to use all its influence to ensure that existing peace agreements are upheld to achieve a fair solution to this long and exhausting conflict, and in particular to end occupation as it is the main cause for the conflict.
• Request appropriate Human Rights Council’s Special procedures and mechanisms to ensure an effective follow-up to the implementation of its decision.