International Affairs, Peace & Human Security

To: Mr. Andoni Ghassan
International Solidarity Movement

16 April 2003

Dear Mr Ghassan Andoni,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches I would like to express our grave concern and sorrow about the death and injuries sustained by three International Solidarity Movement volunteers - Rachel Corrie, Brian Avery and Tom Hurndell - by actions of the Israeli military forces. We are dismayed not only by the tragedy of international volunteers killed or injured while witnessing non-violently for peace and human rights, but also by the recurrence of these incidents - three over the last four weeks.

The WCC condemns violence against all civilians, including unarmed peace and human rights volunteers. Such violence perpetrated by members of the Israeli military forces must be stopped, investigations conducted and legal action taken by Israel.

Since 2001, the WCC has called for “the establishment of an adequate and effective international presence to ensure full protection of the human rights of the Palestinian people”. The need for an international presence was further stated at the Human Rights Commission at its 57th session, which adopted a resolution calling upon the relevant United Nations organs “urgently to consider the best way to provide the necessary international protection for the Palestinian people until the cessation of the Israeli occupation of its territories”. (E/CN.4/2001/7)

The continuing deadly cycle of violence shows the urgent need for such an international presence to protect civilians until Israel withdraws from its occupied territories. The work of all human rights and peace advocates in Israel and the OPT demonstrates the courage of civil society and faith based groups standing in solidarity with the victims of gross violations of human rights. Their commitment and personal stories are testimonies against impunity.

The WCC, its member churches and ecumenical partner organisations around the world will continue to stand in active solidarity with the Churches of Jerusalem and all those Palestinians and Israelis working for peace, justice and reconciliation through non-violent actions. Through the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), we will continue to walk side by side with the local churches, working for peace and human rights and intensifying our concerted ecumenical advocacy efforts to bring an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine.

As Christians prepare to celebrate Easter – a time of passage from death to life, from slavery to freedom – we pray for freedom, security and justice, as well as forgiveness, love and reconciliation for Palestinians and Israelis. We want to assure you of our continued prayers, particularly for all those local and international peace and human rights advocates who have taken personal risks to witness to peace and justice in the land of our resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.

Peter Weiderud
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs
World Council of Churches