Global Baptists voice concern over violence in Gaza

Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 14.(REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / CC BY 2.0)

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Leaders of the Baptist World Alliance and the European Baptist Federation issued a joint statement of “grave concern over the heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine.”

“As Christian leaders, we stand in solidarity with all who suffer and who have tragically lost their lives,” said the May 22 statement, endorsed by BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown, BWA President Paul Msiza, European Baptist Federation General Secretary Anthony Peck and European Baptist Federation President Jennifer Entrican.

The statement noted special concern about “the desperate situation inside Gaza,” pointing out even before civilians were killed in recent days, a Baptist leader who visits the area regularly characterized it as having “virtually no electricity, water, money—or hope.”

“We abhor the resort to violence from wherever it comes, whether by militant groups or state-sanctioned oppression,” the statement continued. “Violence begets violence and leads to both sides living in constant fear of the other. This cannot be the way to a lasting peace with justice.”

Multiple news sources reported 60 Palestinians were killed May 14 when Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians who were protesting the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding and the relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Over the course of six weeks, more than 100 protesters were killed and thousands injured, the BBC reported.

“We urge world leaders to avoid provocative actions and statements that serve to inflame the conflict and, instead, to restore the urgent priority of a process of negotiation towards a just peace, so that Israelis and Palestinians may live together the harmony and dignity in the same geographical space,” the Baptist statement said.

“We believe it is the responsibility of the international community to uphold the human rights of the Palestinian community and to seek to create the conditions where peace has a chance to flourish.”

The Baptist leaders also voiced support for Christian communities in both Israel and Palestine—particularly those Baptist and evangelical churches “that continue to witness to the gospel of nonviolence, reconciliation and hope.”

“We support those initiatives in both Israel and Palestine that bring Israelis and Palestinians together and seek the reconciliation and restored hope of God’s kingdom,” the statement said.

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