Westminster J&P condemn attack on Gaza Flotilla

Westminster Justice and Peace Commission  has issued a statement today condemning the action of the Israeli authorities on the aid mission to Gaza. Head of the Comission, Fr Joe Ryan writes: 'The Israeli military attack on an unarmed vessel, bearing humanitarian aid deserves our total condemnation. It does nothing to further the cause of peace in the Middle East, or the reputation of Israel.The atrocity, standing in a long line of military excursions going back to 1978, shares common threads of loss of innocent life, a lack of proportion and total impunity.

'The killing of unarmed civilians on board the Mavi Marmara begs the question of what constitutes the first aggressive act, and the reasons for the existence of such flotillas. There is incontrovertible evidence of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza as a result of Israel’s blockade since 2007, and subsequent military action in Operation Cast Lead.

'The “righteous” who respond with aid, wherever they come from, follow the Gospel precepts spelt out in Matthew’s parable of the sheep and goats (Ch 25), and will stand at Jesus’ right hand. The consequences for those that hinder such efforts remain to be seen.

'We continue to demand that the Israeli state allow relief to be given to the people of Gaza.  We are aware that every country is entitled to protect itself but this security policy does not over-ride international law, UN recommendations or human rights.  We also call for an urgent international inquiry into this incident, led by the UN and  including Israel, Turkey, the EU, Arab States and the US. There needs to be a full and transparent airing of evidence and a thorough and impartial investigation into what happened.

'We further call for an end to the 3 year blockade which is unfair, cruel and inhumane. It must be brought to an end because it is unsustainable and contributes nothing to finding a peaceful solution. The ceasefire negotiated after the 2008-9 Israeli blockade on Gaza has been largely effective and has been maintained. However, despite this, the blockade against Gaza has remained in place with no easing of restrictions by Israel and also Egypt who assists in the maintenance of it.

'The Vatican has stated that it deplores the use of violence, because it makes finding peaceful solutions more difficult. The international community knows that the denial of Palestinian rights is one of the most urgent and important moral causes of our time.  The Commission calls for a negotiated settlement, so as to end Israel’s apparent immunity and lack of accountability, using a peaceful, political process, which would take into account, at the very least, international law, the Geneva Convention and human rights, as well as UN rulings.'  
Fr Joe Ryan, Chair, Justice and Peace Commission 

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