Christian groups urge Obama to take action to stop violence in Gaza


WASHINGTON — U.S. Christian organizations called on President Barack Obama to take direct action to stop the current violence in the Gaza Strip and to work toward a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“The Obama administration and Congress have rightly condemned the indiscriminate rockets from Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups into Israel. It is time for the U.S. to condemn the Israeli bombardment of civilian centers and the blockade just as strongly. This latest escalation cannot be divorced from the broader context of the Gaza siege and occupation,” they wrote in the July 22 letter to Obama and copied to members of the House and Senate.

They added that U.S. military aid to Israel creates a heavy moral obligation on the United States to ensure that it is not used in violation of U.S. law and human rights.

“As the situation continues to deteriorate, and horrendous death and destruction mount in Gaza, we are called by conscience to say, ‘Enough,’” they said.

Previous military operations in Gaza have failed because the root cause of the violence, the Israeli occupation, has not been resolved, they said.

“To achieve a lasting peace, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, including the siege of Gaza, must end. The U.S. must, therefore, make ending the occupation and lifting the Gaza siege priorities for our foreign policy in the region,” they said.

Among Christian groups signing the letter were the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. Pax Christi International, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Extended Justice Team.