Jerusalem - During recent weeks, the three Abrahamic Faiths have observed their Holy Seasons with a sense of peace and goodwill. Therefore, we are greatly grieved by the severity of the ongoing military operations in Gaza that are occurring in heavily populated areas and impacting the civilian population.
As a Diocese with well over a century of an unbroken commitment to the well being and peace of the community in Gaza City through our Al Ahli Arab Hospital, we are both stunned and saddened by the events unfolding in Gaza.
The heavy loss of Palestinian lives and the serious wounds and injuries to many hundreds of innocent bystanders require the immediate cessation of hostilities for the well being and safety of both the Palestinian and Israeli communities, and especially for Gaza and the nearby Israeli population centers. The gravity of the situation threatens to engulf this entire region and we ask the Palestinians and Israelis to return to active negotiations for the well being and safety of both communities.
Of immediate concern is the urgent medical services needed by the victims of this violence. The immensity of providing care for the injured and wounded is overwhelming a healthcare system struggling to provide essential healthcare services for 1.5 million Palestinians, most of who live in refugee camps.
As the casualties and human suffering continue to rise, we appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian communities to exercise responsible restraint. We urgently call on all parties to immediately cease hostilities, and provide for the humanitarian needs of those directly affected by the conflict. At the same time, we can assure the Gaza communities that the Al Ahli Hospital will continue, as it has for many decades.
On Sunday, December 28, 2008, Bishop Dawani traveled to Amman with Lutheran Bishop Mounib Younan to meet with His Majesty, King Abdullah II for the King’s Seasonal invitation to Church Leaders. The King expressed his deep concern for the heavy loss of human life in Gaza, called for the immediate secession of hostilities, and expressed his earnest hope for the resumption of the Palestinian/Israeli Peace Process. He also affirmed his full support for the continuing presence of the Christian community and the safeguarding of its properties. Bishop Dawani, in his response, spoke with warm appreciation of the King’s ongoing support and assured him that as Church Leaders, “We are Ambassadors for Peace, Reconciliation and Interfaith Dialogue”.
In his Christmas Eve Sermon at the Carol Service held at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Bishop Dawani in the presence of Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayaad spoke of the Gift of Love “that gives us strength to respect the human dignity of all people, Christian, Muslim and Jews alike,” he said, “we are all created in the Image of God”.
The Bishop continued by saying, “The world waits in eager expectation for people of good will, courage and vision to set aside personal agendas, to encourage the change of heart, to empower all people of faith to tear down the walls of cruelty, fear and hatred. We cannot diminish or escape from the challenges before us which are very real and confront our people. Peace, a just durable peace, is rooted in the reconciling love of God for all the people of this land”.
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