Quakers believe there is that of God in everyone, that everyone’s life is sacred. We stand against violence in all its forms. We grieve for those in Israel and Palestine who have lost precious lives. We pray with those waiting for the return of loved ones and those living under siege and bombardment.
Quakers have a long history of providing humanitarian assistance and leading efforts to build peace in situations of conflict. British Quakers coordinate the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) on behalf of 16 churches and NGOs. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide a protective presence to vulnerable Palestinian communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. EAPPI also campaigns for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions. It shares a vision for a future without military occupation of Palestine when both Palestinians and Israelis can live in freedom and security and with full human rights.
We are shocked and deeply saddened by the escalation of violence, the enormous death toll of civilians, and the destruction of homes and hospitals. We denounce Hamas’ killing and abduction of innocent people on the 7th of October 2023. We condemn Israel’s continuing bombardment and blockade of Gaza. Such indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and hostage-taking both violate international law. This destruction and siege has intensified a humanitarian crisis for the vast numbers of people displaced by the conflict.
We recognise that these cycles of violence must be understood in the context of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and Hamas’ commitment to the destruction of Israel. The past year has seen record levels of attacks on Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and a sharp increase in human rights violations. These include demolition of homes and schools, repression of non-violent protests and mass-arrests.
We acknowledge the failure of the international community to effectively engage with any meaningful peace process in Palestine, and emphasise that a lasting peace with justice for all requires the underlying causes of the conflict to be addressed.
We urge the UK government and international leaders to call for an immediate ceasefire and to ensure access to humanitarian aid. We call for the immediate release of hostages and those detained.
We appeal to the international community to acknowledge and start to address the root causes of the violence, to engage in diplomacy and to work ceaselessly for an end to the military occupation of Palestine and for peace, justice and equality for all in Israel and Palestine.
This is a statement on behalf of Sheffield Quakers.