Christians praying for peace as Israel-Gaza conflict threatens to become 'full-scale war'Blog
Christian leaders are praying for an end to fighting between Israel and Gaza after hostilities escalated this week, leaving many dead.
Israel has launched air and ground attacks in retaliatory strikes on Gaza, killing at least 119, including 31 children, Gaza's health ministry said on Friday.
Although Israeli ground forces have joined in the assaults, Israel said they are not operating inside Gaza.
Christian Aid's head of Middle East William Bell has warned that a ground invasion by Israel would "take us into the depths of hell".
"The international community cannot afford to continue failing in their responsibility to use every possible measure to stop the violence immediately," he said.
"But they must not stop there. As the violence across Israel and the West Bank demonstrates, it is the status quo that led us to this point.
"It is the inequality, discrimination, incitement and abuse of power that has led some to a false sense of security and others to despair."
But Rev Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in the US, has called Hamas' attacks on Israel "nothing short of terror."
He is calling on President Joe Biden to "step up" the US' defence of Israel.
"Every Jew and every Palestinian is loved by God, made in the image of God, and deserves equal opportunity to realize their aspirations. There is a moral equivalency in their - and our - common humanity, but there is no moral equivalency between the actions of the terrorists in the Gaza Strip and the democratic State of Israel in defending its citizens," said Rodriguez.
Tor Wennesland, the UN's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, this week issued an urgent appeal to both sides to suspend attacks.
"Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full-scale war," tweeted Wennesland.
"The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now."
Samaritan's Purse CEO Franklin Graham has echoed these fears, saying the situation "could become a full-scale war in the blink of an eye."
"I have many friends who live in Israel, both Arab and Jew, so we are very concerned about the situation there," he said.
"People have been killed, families are cowering in fear in bomb shelters, and they need our prayers. As we are commanded in the Scriptures, let us 'pray for the peace of Jerusalem' (Psalm 122:6)."
Harvest pastor Greg Laurie said that everyone should be "praying for Israel."
"They have been barraged by over 1000 rockets from Hamas, which is a terrorist organization backed by Iran," Laurie stated. "[T]he Bible tells us to 'Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem'.( Ps.122:6)," he said.
Jason Yates, CEO of My Faith Votes, said, "As Christians, we support the people of Israel because they are God's chosen people. As Americans, we celebrate the State of Israel as an ally and the only democracy in the middle east. It is a democracy known for its commitment to religious freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
"Thousands of rockets have been launched at Israel with the help of multiple US-designated terrorist groups in Gaza all funded, incited and enabled by the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is not a partisan issue.
"The US cannot afford to remain silent. We call on President Biden to publically stand with Israel without equivocation and make his position clear – the United States will not tolerate terrorism in any form domestic or abroad."
Source: Jennifer Lee