The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has called for an immediate de-escalation of the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine. The conflict, sparked by Hamas’ actions, has claimed the lives of numerous people on both sides and left many vulnerable Palestinians without access to vital resources.
The crisis began with Hamas’ killing of 700 Israelis, including women and children, which resulted in a retaliatory response by the Israel Defense Force, leading to the ongoing heavy bombardment of the Gaza territory. This situation has left approximately 2.4 million Palestinians, including women, children, and the elderly, without access to water, food, health services, and electricity.
In a statement signed by their president, Most Rev. Sithembele Sipuka, the bishops say they recognize the Israeli government’s right and obligation to protect its citizens. However, they express deep concern over the heavy bombardment of Gaza, which has resulted in the suffering and loss of innocent Palestinian lives with no ties to Hamas activities.
The Catholic Bishops stress that neither side’s actions can be justified, as both result in the suffering and death of innocent civilians.
The SACBC firmly believes that the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians are precious and must be safeguarded. They emphasize that “two wrongs don’t make a right” and call for an immediate ceasefire. The Bishops appeal for a more humane approach to resolving the conflict, eliminating further suffering and deaths.
In their plea, the SACBC particularly requests the restoration of essential necessities like food supply, electricity, and healthcare to the Palestinian people in Gaza. They emphasize that these basic needs are critical to sustaining life.
“We particularly request an immediate restoration of food supply, electricity and health care to the Palestinian people in Gaza, which are the basic necessities of life. We pray that our shared appreciation of the preciousness of life will see us finding a peaceful solution to the longstanding tension between the two nations,” the statement said.
The Bishops also called for prayer for peace, expressing hope that a peaceful resolution can be found to end the longstanding tension between the two nations. They draw inspiration from the words of Micah 4:3, calling for nations to “hammer their swords into ploughshares,” and echo Pope Francis’ belief that “the option of every war is a defeat.”