Love Demands an Immediate and Permanent Ceasefire in Gaza

opinion and analysis

BY TIM KUTZMARK, ADELINE MARCHINI AND STEVE SACKS 

The minister, Board of Trustees and Social Justice Team of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Fresno, in keeping with our church’s religious values, state our demand for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages held by Hamas, with the intent of respecting the lives of all people living in Israel/Palestine.

Indiscriminate killing and violence can never be justified. We unequivocally condemn Hamas’s savage attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that left 1,200 people dead and hundreds taken hostage. Under international humanitarian law, intentional attacks on civilians, or attacks that do not distinguish between military targets and civilians, are prohibited under all circumstances.

But the resulting and continuing military response of the Government of Israel since that time has been condemned by all major countries, with the United States being the notable exception as shown by its continued military support to Israel. The International Court of Justice in January ordered the Government of Israel to do all in its power to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. However, all evidence suggests that is not happening. As of late February:

  • The Government of Israel has cut off food, water and power and bombed homes, resulting in 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million population being displaced and unhoused. Approximately 1.85 million people in Gaza are living in tents. Deaths due to diseases and starvation are occurring at an alarming rate. Health experts warn that this situation could result in a staggering increase of deaths in the near future.
  • Nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed with 70,000+ injured. More than 10,000 children have been killed.
  • Gaza’s infrastructure, including schools, universities, power stations, government buildings, museums, UN shelters and hospitals, has been targeted and destroyed.
  • No hospitals in Gaza are fully functional due to lack of supplies or destruction by bombings.

Before Oct. 7, Gaza received 500 daily truckloads of food, which already was inadequate to meet the region’s nutritional needs. February averaged fewer than 100 trucks daily—far short of being able to prevent starvation.

This is why the minister, Board of Trustees and Social Justice Team of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, as well as other religious organizations and secular groups in this country and worldwide, call for an end to the Government of Israel’s violence with an immediate and permanent ceasefire. There is presently in Gaza a severe crisis on the verge of becoming a humanitarian catastrophe. To avert this requires sufficient food, water and medical equipment to enter Gaza.

In addition, aid from the United Nations, the United States and other countries will be needed to rebuild Gaza so that the Palestinians there have a functional place to live. The United States must question the billions of dollars of military aid given to Israel. Our government is currently complicit in Israel’s targeting of the civilian population in Gaza with U.S. made bombs and weapons.

Our Unitarian Universalist faith has eight foundational principles. The sixth principle states that “we affirm and promote: The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.” What is needed is a lasting peace. That can only be accomplished through diplomacy. Long-term diplomatic solutions that honor international human rights and religious freedom are essential.

We urge all concerned citizens to contact our country’s leaders, and over and over state clearly that we do not support our government’s current responses to this crisis and that it needs to change its course.

*****

Rev. Tim Kutzmark is the minister, Adeline Marchini is the president of the Board of Trustees and Steve Sacks is the co-chair of the Social Justice Team at the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Fresno.

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