The Catholic bishops in the Holy Land issued a statement on July 8 condemning the violence that led first to the murder of three Israeli teenagers, then the revenge killing of a Palestinian boy by Jewish extremists, followed by Israel's current Protective Edge military operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza strip. Likening the violence to pouring gasoline on a fire, the statement said using the murder of three Israelis "to inflict collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and in its legitimate desire to be free, represents a tragic exploitation of that tragedy and only increases violence and hatred."
Issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, the statement said, "Israel and Palestine are echoing with the cry of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, loved ones of the young people who have fallen victim to the latest round in the cycle of violence that plagues this land." Some of the victims are well known, said the statement, because "the media have covered in detail their lives, whereas others – by far more numerous - are mere statistics, nameless and faceless."
The call for vengeance "is fed by the attitudes and expressions of a leadership that continues to foster a discriminatory discourse promoting exclusive rights of one group and the occupation with all of its disastrous consequences. New settlements are built, the lands are confiscated, families are separated, loved ones are arrested and even assassinated". On the other hand, the violent language of the Palestinian street "is fed by the attitudes and expressions of those who have despaired of any hope to reach a just solution to the conflict through negotiations". A frustration that paves the way for "those who seek to build a totalitarian, monolithic society, in which there is no room for any difference or diversity, gain popular support, exploiting this situation of hopelessness."
According to the leaders of Justice and Peace in the Holy Land,"the resistance to occupation cannot be equated with terrorism. Resistance to occupation is a legitimate right, terrorism is part of the problem."
The only way out of violence is to "shake off any leadership that feeds on the cycle of violence" and support leaders who recognize "that God has planted here three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and two peoples, Palestinian and Israeli." The statement reiterated the call to peace pronounced by Pope Francis during his recent visit to Israel. Religious leaders are called to speak "prophetic language," said the statement, that "refuses to attribute the status of enemy to any of God’s children."
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