Holy Land: agency calls for international action to break cycle of violence

 As another wave of violence hit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories this week, Christian Aid's Oisin Coghlan called for urgent international intervention to end the bloodshed. Ten Israelis were killed and more than 50 injured on Sunday when a suicide bomber struck close to Ariel Sharon's residence in Jerusalem. Hours before, eight Palestinians were killed during an Israeli incursion into a suburb of Gaza City. Oisin Coghlan, Policy Officer in Christian Aid's Dublin office, has recently returned from a visit to the region with three Irish politicians. He said: "This constant cycle of violence cannot be condoned. There is an urgent need for immediate international intervention to get the peace process back on track". The three politicians, Senator David Norris, Liz O'Donnell TD and Simon Coveney TD visited Christian Aid partners in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. They accompanied Israeli volunteers from Physicians for Human Rights into the West Bank town of Tulkarm where they were providing much-needed medical care to Palestinians. The weekly trips not only serve to bring medical relief but they are an expression of solidarity for the Palestinians with whom they work. The most striking impression left by the trip, said Mr Coghlan, was that of the barrier being built in the West Bank. "We visited Qalqiya in the West Bank, which is completely surrounded by an eight-metre high wall, military roads and multiple fences. The life of the town of 45,000 is being slowly strangled and 6,000 people have already left as a result of the dire economic and humanitarian situation they now find themselves in." The barrier has created new facts on the ground, Mr Coghlan added. "It seriously undermines any hope of achieving two states living side by side in peace and security which the roadmap envisaged. Without concerted international intervention, attacks on both Israeli civilians and poverty and suffering among Palestinians are likely to continue."

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