MCC plans relief, advocates for just peace in Palestine and Israel
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is responding to the recent events in Palestine and Israel with a call to prayer, emergency food and other relief, and advocacy for a just peace.
“We mourn the tragic deaths of those killed in Palestine and Israel,” says Rick Cober Bauman, MCC Canada executive director. “We lament this new wave of conflict and invite churches to pray for the many families whose loved ones have been killed in both Israel and Palestine.”
“MCC works with both Israeli and Palestinian partners committed to a just peace in the region,” adds Ann Graber Hershberger, MCC U.S. executive director. “We are committed to working toward a future where all Palestinians and Israelis can live together on the land in peace and abundance.”
MCC is planning an emergency relief response with existing partners, focused on the immediate humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip, given the vulnerability of the population and lack of resources available to families. The initial response will include distributing food and bedding. In the longer-term, MCC also plans to respond with trauma healing support and housing reconstruction.
Currently, no food, fuel or medicine can enter Gaza, as the last remaining access from Egypt was shut down after airstrikes hit the border crossing. Communities in Gaza were already experiencing extreme hardships due to previous Israeli military operations and the 16-year blockade, which restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza.
Sarah Funkhouser and her spouse Seth Malone, MCC representatives for Jordan, Palestine and Israel, say that reports from MCC partners in Gaza are deeply troubling.
“Our partners in Gaza are reporting a lot of bombing, more than they’ve ever seen before,” says Malone. “But we’re also hearing from partners that it’s not safe to be inside when buildings are being targeted like this. The situation is dire for civilians here, electricity is cut off, water is cut off, food is cut off.”
The building of one of MCC’s partners in the Gaza Strip, the Near East Council of Churches (NECC), was severely damaged by airstrikes, including its medicine storage facility and classrooms where job skills training took place. Many homes of partner staff have also been destroyed by bombing. Despite this devastation, partners are committed to helping those in need.
MCC’s current programs in Palestine and Israel include education, peacebuilding and food security and livelihood initiatives. In the Gaza Strip, MCC supports food security, youth vocational training and a trauma healing program for children and youth.
MCC is also urging world leaders to encourage immediate de-escalation and hold all parties to the same standard of international law regarding the protection of civilians and respect for human rights. MCC will continue to advocate to the Canadian government and U.S. government to speak out and take diplomatic and non-violent action to end the conflict and invite others to do the same. Scroll down to featured advocacy campaigns on this page to see how you can take action now.
To donate to MCC’s emergency response, go to mcc.org/Palestine-Israel.
To learn more about Palestine and Israel and MCC’s work there, you can download a free resource, “MCC and Palestine and Israel.”
Header photo caption: One of the buildings used by the Near East Council of Churches, an MCC partner in the Gaza Strip. Though the damage to their facilities will significantly impact their ability to serve communities in Gaza, MCC continues to work with other partners in the area who are able to respond. (Photo courtesy of NECC).
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