Franciscans International is extremely concerned by the violence that has engulfed the Holy Land in recent weeks, and we join Pope Francis and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in their calls for an immediate ceasefire. We also note that the UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly supported a resolution demanding a humanitarian truce and the “release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive,” as well as the urgent statements issued by a number of UN agencies, officials, and experts on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza.
We join Brother Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General of the Friars Minor, and the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, in their call for prayers for peace, and to “sow it with concrete gestures.”
“Let there be a cease-fire. War is always a defeat – always, always.”Pope Francis
FI reiterates that international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld and that the indiscriminate targeting of civilians can never be tolerated. Allegations of mass atrocity crimes should be independently investigated, and anyone violating these core principles must be held accountable by a court of law without exception. Accordingly, we welcome the recent visit of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the Rafah crossing and urge him to take appropriate action under his mandate. More generally, all States must fulfill their obligations under international law, and take concrete steps to ensure the protection of civilian populations.
“Hell is visible in the pictures of the dead and injured, of the destruction of homes, churches and mosques, hospitals, schools. We hear it with the emergency warning sirens on the background. We sense it in the heavy air that smells of death and suffering. The innocent victims of this war do not deserve the hell on earth they are living.”Br. Ibrahim Faltas OFM, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, on the situation in Gaza
As the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, H.E. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, wrote on 24 October: it is our moral duty to unequivocally condemn this violence. As he points out, it is “only by ending decades of occupation and its tragic consequences […] that a serious peace process can begin.” Witnessing the events of the past weeks, we echo Cardinal Pizzaballa that “the tragedy of these days must lead us all, religious, political, civil society, international community, to a more serious commitment in this regard than what has been done so far.”
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