World leaders must call for immediate end
to Gaza violence
By Sam Lucero
News and Information Manager
Every year, violence around the world kills and injures countless civilians, including innocent women and children. Last month, one of the longest-running battles in recent history was resurrected in the Holy Land.
Since 1947, when the United Nations General Assembly approved the establishment of a Jewish State, Arabs and Jews have been at odds regarding land ownership. Many world leaders have tried without success to broker a two-state solution that would bring peace - and a home - to Israel and the Palestinians.
Because the dispute has never been settled, Palestinians have been left in a state of limbo. The result has been protests, resentment and violence against Israelis. In turn, the Israeli military has responded with force. This spiraling pattern of violence took a nasty turn after Israeli airstrikes began Dec. 27 in response to Palestinian Hamas militants launching rockets into Israeli territory.
Since that date, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed. In addition, many innocent Israelis have died. Violence begets violence and more innocent people die.
In response to the renewed violence in the Gaza Strip, Pope Benedict XVI has pleaded with both sides to reach a peaceful end to their dispute.
"The dramatic news arriving from Gaza demonstrates how the refusal of dialogue can lead to situations of untold suffering for populations that are once again the victims of hatred and war," Pope Benedict said Jan. 4. "War and hatred are not the solution to problems, which is confirmed by recent history."
A Catholic News Service report, appearing on page 12 [print edition only], describes a tone of helplessness and despair in Gaza.
"We are living like animals in Gaza," reported Msgr. Manuel Musallam, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Gaza City. "We cry and nobody hears us. I am asking God for mercy and pray that the light of Christianity continues to shine in Gaza."
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, president of Caritas Internationalis, has called for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. This would allow medical personnel to treat the wounded. The cardinal stated that hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed and thousands have been injured since the late-December conflict arose.
"Innocent people are suffering because aid agencies cannot reach them due to the Israeli military action," said Cardinal Rodriguez.
Caritas Internationalis, an umbrella agency for 162 national Catholic charities, is waiting to assist the wounded. Catholic Relief Services, which has worked in the Holy Land for nearly a half-century, is also ready to provide food and medical relief.
With the beginning of a new year come many hopes and dreams. In the Holy Land, those hopes and dreams have been replaced by bombs and deathly screams. May world leaders join Pope Benedict in demanding an immediate end to Israeli airstrikes, and may the cries of children, both Jewish and Arab, help Palestinians and Israelis find a peaceful and permanent solution to their disputes.