Palestinians who fled their houses due to Israeli airstrikes gather to receive food offered by volunteers at a UN-run school where they have taken taken refuge in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. OSV News photo/Mahmoud al-Masri, Reuters

Pilgrims seeking peace register their voice

By  Dave Szollosy, Catholic Register Special
  • November 16, 2023

As Catholics, as people of faith, as pilgrims seeking peace, Catholics for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land is appalled by the editorial The Catholic Register printed on Oct. 19. 

We have marched with Palestinians, supporters of the Palestinian people, members of Independent Jewish Voices, no one “cheering on” the murderous attack of Oct. 7.  Instead, Catholics of conscience must condemn all loss of life and human suffering and reject continuing violence.

Your editorial is misleading regarding the beginning of the violence. Seventy-five years ago, Palestinian people were displaced in a brutal assault and expulsion.  There have been 57 years of dehumanizing military occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Gaza has suffered 16 years of imprisonment within a blockade of the territory.  This is not a defence or a justification, but just a statement of the reality that the current violence did not emerge from a vacuum, as pointedly made by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, an illustration that violence never brings resolution, but only begets more violence.

That you would write in such a way that could infer the horror exerted by Hamas on Oct. 7 justifies the hugely disproportionate devastation of innocent in Gaza, evokes a logic that is accurately described as “Horrific. Heinous.”

Your editorial invokes the sad, oft-repeated canard that the perpetrators of the Oct. 7 massacre “ran to hide behind its own people” as if to justify the Israeli army’s indiscriminate collective punishment in over 11,000 deaths, nearly half of them children, and millions more suffering because of countless attacks, relentless bombing, hunger, dehydration, sickness, injuries and the denial of clean water, fuel, health care and humanitarian assistance. 

But even admitting that the Gaza Strip is so tiny and so densely populated that any “military installation” is by necessity within a mile or two of civilian infrastructure, no evidence whatsoever has been provided to date that Hamas uses its own people as human shields or that its elusive tunnels are in fact built under particular hospitals and schools.

In fact, this accusation is a projection of Israel’s own strategy as articulated by former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion when he promoted Israeli settlements on lands from which Palestinians had been driven to “constitute a human wall against the dangers of invasion.”

Rather than justifying the actions of the Israeli military in the commission of what has accurately been identified as war crimes, a leading Catholic paper should be taking an editorial stance that supports the call of the Holy Father for an immediate ceasefire and the opening of a humanitarian corridor so that badly needed humanitarian aid supplies can reach the innocent Palestinian people.

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