Catholic agencies condemn human rights violations in Gaza and Israel
09 January 2009
Catholic organizations have written to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to call for an investigation into violations committed by both sides in the Gaza crisis.
A Palestinian girl, who fled her house with her family during Israel's offensive, looks out of a window at a U.N. school in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip January 7, 2009.
Caritas Internationalis, Dominicans for Justice and Peace (Order of Preachers), International Young Catholic Students on peace-building, and Pax Romana say there is mounting evidence that the current crisis has worsened the already dramatic human rights and humanitarian situation for innocent civilians.
Caritas Jerusalem reports that its humanitarian programmes and medical relief operations in Gaza have been seriously affected since the beginning of the bombing.
The joint statement by the Catholic organizations urges all parties to protect the lives of civilians and to enforce International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.
Caritas Head of International Delegation in Geneva Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo said, “We are calling on the Human Rights Council to investigate and to assess the human rights violations and the humanitarian situation in Gaza and Israel.
“We are calling on Israel to end indiscriminate collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza and stop their excessive use of force. We are urging Hamas to end their unlawful rocket attacks on civilians in Israel.”
The Catholic organisations say there needs to be an immediate permanent ceasefire to get humanitarian relief into Gaza and to protect human life.
“The three hours ceasefire is a first step, but it's not enough to deliver the required humanitarian assistance to everyone,” said Rev. Msgr. Vitillo.
The Catholic organisations say in the statement that the international community must use all its influence to ensure an effective protection of civilian populations in Gaza and Israel, especially the most vulnerable in accordance with the International law and facilitate all discussion leading to a just and longstanding solution.
Read the full statement here.
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