The United States should provide leadership to end the cycle of violence and retaliation currently unfolding between Gaza and southern Israel, according to a letter to the Obama administration from the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“An immediate cease fire must be negotiated as a precondition so that leaders on both sides can give Israelis and Palestinians hope for a different future free of fear and full of promise,” Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said in his November 20 letter to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon.
Bishop Pates wrote that Israel has a right to defend its citizens following “morally unjustifiable” rocket attacks from Gaza that killed at least three Israeli civilians, but its use of force must be proportionate and discriminate. “The media report that Israeli air attacks have killed about 100 Palestinians and wounded many more,” Bishop Pates wrote. “The Director of Caritas Jerusalem noted that the hospitals in Gaza are ‘overwhelmed with casualties’ and is appealing for supplies. This continuing violence has serious implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for regional stability.”
Bishop Pates urged the U.S. government to work to end this latest violence “before it spirals further out of control.” He added, “Violence will not bring peace to the region; it will only reinforce historic hurts and deepen divisions, making peace even more remote.”
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/upload/2012-11-Ltr-to-Donilon-on-Gaza-violence.pdf