Mission Leaders Stress Humanitarian
Needs in Call for Ceasefire in Gaza
By Elliott Wright
New York, NY, January 7, 2009—The two top mission leaders of The United Methodist Church have appealed to President George W. Bush to use his remaining days in office to bring about "an immediate ceasefire in Gaza" that will "effectively permit humanitarian relief" to civilians in the Palestinian enclave under heavy attack by Israel.
In a joint "Appeal On Gaza" issued on Jan. 7, Bishop Bruce Ough of West Ohio, president of the General Board of Global Ministries, and the Rev. Edward W. Paup, general secretary, said that such actions would "heighten the moral standing" of the outgoing Bush Administration in the United States. The US a few days earlier vetoed a ceasefire proposal in the Security Council of the United Nations.
The mission agency and its United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are especially concerned about the unmet needs of civilians whose lives have been disrupted by, first, Israeli bombing of Gaza and, second, a massive ground invasion. Israel says that its military action was in retaliation to rockets fired at an Israeli town near Gaza by the Hamas faction that has control of Gaza.
UMCOR is working through partner agencies to respond to the needs for food, water, and medical care within Gaza, where, according to the Ough-Paup statement, "military strikes are currently destroying homes, schools, and places of worship in one of the most densely populated places in the world." The statement continued:
The statement also stressed that "The United Methodist Church has a long heritage of support for international law and equal rights as the basis for just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians."
A fairly effective ceasefire was in effect between Israel and Hamas from last July through early November. Tensions resulting in new outbreaks of violence escalated in recent weeks.
The Ough-Paup statement said that the Bush Administration still has time "to take decisive action to persuade Israel to pull back from its massive military initiative, and to provide an opportunity for the people of Gaza to receive much-needed fuel, flour for bread, and medical supplies and spare parts for hospitals."
The mission leaders urged prayers for peace by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and it commended United Methodist missionaries in Israel-Palestine "for their steadfastness in serving persons in need, and in representing the Methodist commitment to peace in the Holy Land."
Global Ministries currently has three missionaries in Israel/Palestine:
The full text of the statement by Bishop Ough and Rev. Paup follows:
An Appeal on Gaza
President George W. Bush of the United States has the opportunity to heighten the moral standing of his administration by using his remaining days in office to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, a ceasefire that will effectively permit humanitarian relief to the civilians whose lives have been disrupted by the Israeli invasion of the Palestinian enclave. Military strikes are currently destroying homes, schools, and places of worship in one of the most densely populated places in the world.
Both an immediate ceasefire and full and unimpeded humanitarian access are desperately needed in response to this latest outbreak of military action. As bombs continue to explode and Israeli tanks roll across Gaza, diplomatic assessments of blame and stubborn adherence to failed policies are unacceptable. Decisive action is required to stop the carnage and to provide for Palestinians who for years have been virtual prisoners in Gaza, hemmed in by closed military borders on all sides.
The dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are compounded by years of political stalemate, periodic outbreaks of violence, and recently, 18 months of an Israeli economic blockade of the whole of Gaza, which has a population of 1.5 million Palestinians. A ceasefire that was agreed to in late June dramatically reduced armed attacks for months, yet humanitarian restrictions were not lifted.
The United Methodist Church has a long heritage of support for international law and equal rights as the basis for just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. The church has also gone on record numerous times in support of the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied Palestinian lands.
The General Board of Global Ministries joins with Christians, Jews, and Muslims in prayers for peace for the families and individuals affected by the current violence. We commend Global Ministries' missionary staff in Israel-Palestine for their steadfastness in serving persons in need, and in representing the Methodist commitment to peace in the Holy Land.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a part of the board, will be working with partners to bring relief to the civilian population in Gaza.
Bishop Bruce Ough
Edward W. Paup
January 7, 2009
Date posted: Jan 07, 2009