By Carol Burns, Leeds Diocese Pax Christi grp

If we don’t learn to live together, we are doomed, this land will be our graveyard’ -these are the words of a representative of the Parents Circle Family Forum. (

As helpless bystanders, sometimes we can feel the same. There is no solution unless there is negotiation,

But the journey is going to be a hard one.

The cruelty and violence perpetrated by Hamas on the 7th  of October was truly shocking and clearly has no justification.  I like others felt especially sorrowful that some of those murdered, supported the Palestinians in the Gaza strip in very practical ways like giving lifts to Gaza residents who are going to hospital.

Then this atrocity was followed by the unprecedented attacks on civilians in Gaza, justified by the Netanyahu government as destroying Hamas.  There is no question that the current Israeli government is breaking international law daily.  It has been very difficult at times to watch the scenes at hospitals on the Gaza strip and most distressing the premature babies left without any medical help.

‘Our hearts are breaking as we realize that to Jews this violence feels like a continuation of the Holocaust and to Palestinians it feels like a new Nakba’, (Marie Dennis, Director of the Catholic Non- Violence Initiative, Pax Christi International)

crib on top of rubble
A crib in the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem with Jesus resting on rubble from destroyed buildings

October 7th didn’t come out of the blue, it is in the context of the occupation of Palestinian land since 1967, the growth of illegal settlements and the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails and the arming of Israel especially by the Americans. 

While the words eyes are on Gaza, violence continues in the West Bank as settlers attack Palestinian villages seemly with impunity

What can we do in the face of this terrible conflict?:

  • Never give up hope, as Christians however hard the circumstances, if we believe in the incarnation, that Jesus is with us even in the worst suffering possible, if we believe in the resurrection then there is always hope.
  • Listen to all those who are suffering from whichever side, educate ourselves about the facts, and use many different sources and be alert to fake images on social media.
  • Get involved in public solidarity actions e.g demonstrations, Women in Black (in Bradford and Leeds). Watching a documentary about Marwen Bargouti, a Palestinian Political leader in prison now for 20 years, this week, I was very moved by his family saying how important international solidarity was, to know that ordinary people supported the Palestinians
  • Learn about support and share the many, many examples of non-violence resistance by Palestinian and Israeli groups.
  • Support humanitarian organisations working in Gaza such as Medical Aid for Palestinians. CAFOD also has work in Gaza.

I’ll end with the brave words of Maoz Inon the son of two Israeli peace activists, Bilha and Yakovi Inon, who were murdered on Oct. 7:

Let’s call for peace. Let’s call for hope. Let’s call for a complete ceasefire. Let’s call for building bridges. … We must build the future, and this future must be based on equality, on partnership, on peace.”