Statement from the House of Bishops on the war in Gaza

First published 14th February 2024

On Tuesday 13 February, the House of Bishops released the following statement regarding the war in Gaza:

With the onset of Israel’s ground offensive into Rafah, we call for an immediate ceasefire. The relentless bombardment of Gaza and its huge cost in civilian lives and civilian infrastructure must stop. The manner in which this war is being prosecuted cannot be morally justified.

We urge Israel to adhere to the ICJ order and to ensure that Palestinians have access to food, water, healthcare, and safety, that have long been denied to them. We welcome the Foreign Secretary’s recent call for an immediate pause in the fighting and would also welcome further representation to the Government of Israel about the way that it is exercising its right to self-defence and to affirm adherence to international law.

We continue to advocate for the release of the remaining hostages and an end to the missile attacks on Israel by Hamas. All sides must begin to imagine a future beyond this conflict: for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. This war can’t result in the consolidation of a system of occupation that has for too long denied Palestinians their rights and freedoms.

In praying for all those in Israel and Palestine living in the midst of war and the fear of war, we pray particularly for the Palestinian Christian communities, that they may know strength and the presence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

As we consider the impact of the current conflict in the Middle East on community relations here in the UK, we again condemn all antisemitic and anti-Muslim sentiment. We are horrified by the growing threats and abuses of Jews on university campuses, in our neighbourhoods, and online. We appeal to our communities to be safe for all people whatever their nationality, ethnicity or religion. For our own part, we commit to working alongside our fellow faith leaders for the common good, despite and with our differences.

In her speech to the House of Lords on Thursday 8 February, the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol said:

My Lords, I'm grateful to the Noble Baroness for securing this debate. Today the future seems bleak after Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire. Because, as reported, total victory may be achieved in months. In my city of Bristol, women from Jewish and Muslim communities stand silently together in public vigil, and those of all faiths march each week, in campaigns for cessation of violence on all sides.

"Total victory within months." What does that mean for the hostages held in tunnels? For the women who are pregnant without medical support? For babies whose mothers have no breast milk? What we see is a horrible inversion of the words of the Prophet Joel. The dreams of old men are shattered. The visions of young men are betrayed. The hopes of so many Jews, Muslims and Christians are destroyed.

May God and our political leaders have mercy, source aid and work unrelentingly for peace.


Cover image credit: Wafa in contract with APAimages


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