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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Israel and Gaza: how should we respond?

Following the attacks on Israel by Hamas on Saturday, Israel’s Defence Minister ordered a ‘complete siege’ of the Gaza strip and the cutting off of food, fuel, electricity and water supplies.

Speaking to officials from Southern Israel on Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said ‘what Hamas will experience will be difficult and terrible… this is only the beginning… we are all with you and we will defeat them with force, enormous force.’

The world today looks very different from the way it appeared thirty years ago. It was in September 1993 that the then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, shook hands before cheering crowds on the White House lawn. The handshake – the first ever in public between the two former enemies – marked the signing of a Declaration of Principles for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Since then, peace moves have stalled and more moderate voices who seemed open to compromise have been replaced by more extreme ones.

How should we respond to the events of the last week?

First and foremost, we must unequivocally condemn the Hamas attacks for what they are – evil acts of terror, including the rape, kidnapping, and murder of women, men, and children. Any attempt to justify these actions is morally indefensible, and we must firmly oppose the arguments of those who seek to rationalise them. Contrary to what one academic at a British University has said, the events of last weekend are not the ‘consequence’ for ‘partying on stolen land’.

Secondly, we should grieve. The land flowing with milk and honey is instead a land of blood and tears. We should grieve with those who are suffering in the Bible lands, as elsewhere around the world. In the face of injustice, we should weep.

Thirdly, we should pray for those who are suffering, for a de-escalation of violence, and for peace. We should pray that Israel acts justly and proportionately, even as it fulfils its duty to protect its citizens. In waging war on terror, governments should always act to promote good and prevent evil (Romans 13:4). The line between punishing evil and revenge can be a fine one, but it’s an important one.

Finally, we should examine ourselves and work for peace and justice in our everyday lives. We might not think of ourselves as powerful, but, every day, we have opportunities, big and small, to create a better world – in our workplaces and communities, through political campaigning and our shopping choices, and even with our contributions to social media. In the words of Isaiah 1:17, we must ‘learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’

Paul Woolley
CEO, LICC

 

Comments

  1. First we should condemn Hamas attacks on Israel. Secondly we should condemn the Israeli response over the Palestinian population. And then we grieve. Thare is no Biblical justification to what Israel is doing. There is not Promised Land anymore. Church can not continue with its shameful tolerance with today’s Israel.
    May God forgive them.
    Paz

    By Paz  -  13 Oct 2023
    • Thank you. That needed to be said. Israel’s response also impacts innocent women, men and children!

      By Marion  -  13 Oct 2023
      • There is and has been wrongdoing and bad decisions on both sides. Calling out either one does no good. As Christians and human beings we should all be praying for The Lord to speak to all sides and guide them

        By Jo Boorman  -  13 Oct 2023
        • Absolutely correct and well said. The answer to the question ‘How should we respond … ‘ is clear and simple: Pray, pray again, then pray some more. I’m so disappointed with the continued finger pointing from the moral high-grounders.

          By Philip Brayshaw  -  13 Oct 2023
  2. All of the three responded are valid, but should also be directed for the Palestinians – condemn Israeli violence and excesses; grieve for the suffering Palestinians, muslim and Christians, and pray for the people suffering on both sides of the divide.

    Isa 1:17 is apt – and applied for both groups.

    By Rajesh Lele  -  13 Oct 2023
  3. Having grown up in terrosism the aspects of you call this on your selves as we had no other viable options and the response is rage also need further biblical reflection. The land has always been one of blood Genesis 4

    By andrew buchanan  -  13 Oct 2023
  4. A good commentary but I feel that the blockade of essential services to Gaza isn’t right as it punishes innocent civilians of all religions and none, the UN has condemned this and the West should push to get it stopped I think

    By Nick Darlington  -  13 Oct 2023
    • Agree with all you say. We should not be condoning ANY wrongdoing, from either side.

      By Jo Boorman  -  13 Oct 2023
  5. Thank you a measured and helpful article

    By Katherine  -  13 Oct 2023
  6. Thank you for a faithful and balanced Christian view on these terrible events.
    These are the things that our church leaders should be saying.

    By Barbara F  -  13 Oct 2023
  7. I am unable to read the article about ‘consequences’ as I don’t subscribe to The Times. Is it possible to email me a PDF please? It will complete your comment for me. Thanks

    By Daphne Clifton  -  13 Oct 2023
  8. Thank you. At last a comment from the Church. Or maybe I have missed others? Perhaps everyone has been so shocked. I found this helpful .

    By Fran Boto  -  13 Oct 2023
    • The Archbishop of Canterbury has posted a bit on social media

      By Philippa  -  20 Oct 2023
  9. Please note no land was stolen from Arabs living in the British Protective of Palestine. The land was granted them by an UN charter. The Arab nations then sought to wipe Israel out. Hamas’ attack is the latest Arab group’s attempt to inflict halm on the Jewish state. The land occupied by Israel after defeating these enemies is what is contested. Under the Oslo Accords the State of Israel withdrew from Gaza and granted democratic control over to it’s Arab population. In the process of democracy Hamas has political control in Gaza. It has placed it’s armed faction amongst the general population even using UN schools. Thus any Israelite aggression against armed Hamas personnel is full of danger to civilians. We pray for God’s mercy upon those Arabs caught up in this. We pray for peace in the region and comfort to those who mourn. We pray that these men and women of violence will see their brethren, both Jew and Arab and relent from murdering the innocent. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray for the Church in the region that she may display the fruits of the Holy Spirit in abundance as you move her Lord to acts of love, mercy, peace and grace in this desperate Frontline. Only through you Lord will peace come. Reveal yourself to Jew and Arab we pray through your Church and by your holy power .

    By Mr Roger Fellows  -  13 Oct 2023
  10. Thank you for your understanding of the awful situation here in Israel and for your prayers for all of us.

    By Judith Pex  -  13 Oct 2023
  11. Need to go back to 1940s. Unfortunately the “land without people for a people without land” was flawed as there were people on that land and that was stolen from them. There was never a vote amongst all the inhabitants as to what state to form.
    I agree we don’t seek to justify terrorism. The attack was wrong and unhelpful. But there are terrorists on both sides, including those in power currently in Israel.
    Need Jesus to act in that situation. Perhaps to move Israel into a position where it actively moves to a fair two-state solution. It must be brave and accept risks of further short term terrorism in the path of a just long term peace for both sides. I pray for wisdom amongst leaders on all sides here!

    By Mike Bach  -  13 Oct 2023
  12. Yes thank you indeed. A balanced response emphasizing the humanity and dignity of those on both sides of the dreadful conflict.

    By Simon Hettle  -  13 Oct 2023
  13. such a terribly sad and difficult situation. I have a heavy heart for the families who lost loved ones in Israel last weekend. May God have mercy on us all, especially those working for peace amidst the grief, anger and violence. I had the privilege of being allowed access to Gaza to teach medical students in 2015. Those lively young men and and women in the classroom are now probably working to salvage what they can amidst the ruins of the health services.

    By Maya Jane Bates  -  13 Oct 2023
  14. I cannot really add to the comments above, with which I agree. But I want to say thank you for your helpful article and guidance on how to pray and act.

    By Karen Killick  -  13 Oct 2023
  15. A Prayer Issued by the President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference

    God of peace and compassion,
    We pray for all impacted by the escalation in conflict in Israel-Palestine
    For all who are mourning
    For all who are fearful, today, and for what may lie ahead
    For all traumatised and re-traumatised by what they have experienced.
    Enable us to stand in solidarity with people of peace
    May your Spirit bring peace and healing to your troubled world

    Amen

    By John Anthony  -  13 Oct 2023
  16. I whole heartedly do not condone the violence on either side. However we need to look into the background of this disaster
    1. It is amazing that such a poorly trained and equipped group of Palestinians from Gaza could overcome the best intelligence in the world found in Israel. The Israelis were caught napping and their response is influenced by this.
    2. It is not appropriate to see Hamas as separate from the Palestinian people. It is a fundamentalist political group, supported originally by Israel, that responded to the secularism and corruption of the Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority.
    3. This soldiers who irrupted from Gaza into Israel were young men who have been corralled in an open prison for years
    4. Examine carefully the sources of information about killings, rape and abduction and numbers quoted
    5. Was Israels response to Gaza proportionate?

    By Lesley Dawson  -  13 Oct 2023
  17. I’m surprised there’s no mention about condemning Israel’s actions in targeting ordinary Palestinians in Gaza in this war and previous wars. Ordinary Palestinians have been oppressed by Israel for decades and the (western) world has turned blind eyes on their suffering.

    For Israel to make it impossible for supplies of electricity, water, aid and food to reach Gaza while ordinary Palestinians are suffering is simply inhumane. For Israel government to order evacuation of one million Palestinians out of North Gaza in 24 hours is impractical and cruel. Where are they supposed to go? Yet nobody representing the government of the western nations nor the church in the west said anything.

    Israel has much bigger military and political power than Hamas. Palestinians are the ones suffering the most from this.

    It’s heartbreaking.

    By Mel Tristano  -  13 Oct 2023
  18. I feel the article is written in response to the wrong question. The events of this last week are unavoidably part of a 80 year long story of modern times. A further episode of horror. More innocent deaths. More oppression, violence, and cruelty. So my question is, what have we done to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God over the last 80 years, in the context of the last 2000 years in the “Holy Land”? Discussions that start with last Saturday are failing to ask the right questions, and are ignoring the painful context. If we once again ignore the big picture, then all this will just keep happening.

    By Robert Jones  -  13 Oct 2023
  19. The synopsis by LICC and the comments have been very helpful to understanding the situation.

    Thank you

    By John McClure  -  13 Oct 2023
  20. To say that something is a consequence does not imply that it is a justifiable action. If you oppress people for many years, sooner or later they will explode. That does not mean that the explosion is justifiable, but it is understandable.

    By Ruth Allen  -  13 Oct 2023
  21. Israeli and Palestinian lives are of equal importance.
    Hamas actions are utterly despicable and Israel must be able to defend its people.
    But the cutting off water, food and power to more than 2 million traumatised people, half of whom are under 15, and the latest order to evacuate over a million of them with nowhere to go in Gaza is indefensible and I am ashamed our government doesn’t even acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinian civilians.

    By Karen Senior  -  13 Oct 2023
  22. Whilst it is right and understandable, given the present situation, for us to weep with those who are weeping and to grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. That way only leads to complete and utter despair.

    So, I think we also need to incorporate in our thinking some of the phrases the Biblical prophets used in times of conflict, mayhem and warfare.

    For example, Zechariah refers to God’s people as ‘prisoners of hope’, and Hosea refers to a time when God will ‘make the Valley of Achor (which means ‘trouble’) a door of hope’.

    Although at the present time we are perplexed, God would surely not want us to be driven to despair.

    By George Irving  -  13 Oct 2023
  23. Thank you for this article. It is right to pray for innocent people, to condemn deliberate acts of wrongdoing, and to ask for God’s wisdom to help us to know how to think and act in a helpful way.

    By Ren  -  13 Oct 2023
  24. Thank you for this very helpful article and the supporting responses. As we grieve so must we pray.

    By Barry Bond  -  14 Oct 2023
  25. Is this some kind of recipe (with a precise number of steps) to help us feel better about this awful situation and assuage our powerlessness?
    Thank you to George Irving for highlighting the element of hope fundamental to the Christian faith (somehow prophets who have been there before give me more ground for hope than my ethical shopping will ever do!) and for Paz and others’ balancing comment on also condemning (if we must be judges…) Israel’s response.

    By Lydia Ebdon-Borde  -  14 Oct 2023

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