More than two dozens faith groups representing Christians, Muslims and Jews are calling for an arms embargo on Israel and an end to the $3.1 billion a year in military aid the US gives to the country.
The statement comes as the death toll from Israel’s horrific bombardment of Gaza reached 1,437, surpassing the total from “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s assault on the besieged territory in 2008-2009.
“We deplore and condemn the use of violence by anyone, anytime, anywhere,” the faith groups say, “for each of these casualties is a child of God.”
“The current onslaught takes place within the context of a seven-year old Israeli and Egyptian imposed blockade of Gaza and the forty-seven-year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza,” the statement says.
It also notes that most of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinian residents “are from families that were driven from their homes in Palestine in 1948, when the state of Israel was created, and have since not been permitted by Israel to return.”
“Palestinians everywhere,” including those within Israel facing institutionalized discrimination and mounting racism, “must struggle for their dignity, human rights and equality. Right now in Gaza, every Palestinian is literally struggling to stay alive,” the groups say.
The statement takes pains to be even-handed; the faith groups say they also “support efforts to prevent the distribution of weapons to Gaza.”
“We will continue endorsing this call until the current bloodshed, blockade, occupation, and exile come to an end,” they conclude.
Last week, the Obama administration approved an Israeli request for a resupply of mortar shells and grenades despite the soaring death toll from Israel’s attacks which, human rights groups say, specifically target civilians.
Join the call
The faith groups urge the public to sign a petition calling for an arms embargo on Israel, organized by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee.
The petition will be presented to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September.
Earlier this month, dozens of international cultural and political figures, including six Nobel Peace Laureates, endorsed a similar call, urging an and to the arms trade with Israel.