Sabeel-Kairos UK Call to Action in response to the situation in Palestine/Israel
Here you will find our statements, updates and latest calls to action regarding the current situation in Gaza and Israel.
Christian Organizations Demand Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza
We have joined our partner Friends of Sabeel North America in conjunction with a diverse coalition of Christian voices who long for justice and peace in the Holy Land, to release the following statement in response to the horrifying loss of innocent life in Israel and the genocidal massacre, destruction and inhumane siege on civilians in Gaza.
What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans. You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so. When you want a piece of land, you find a way to seize it. When you want someone’s house, you take it by fraud and violence. – Micah 2:1–2 (NLT)
As a diverse coalition of Christian voices longing for justice and peace in the Holy Land, we are horrified at the loss of innocent life in Israel and the genocidal massacre, destruction and inhumane siege on civilians in Gaza. We are likewise heartbroken and outraged by the cruelty and complicity of U.S. government officials, and the cowardice or callous indifference of many of our religious leaders and institutions.
In response, we call on our members and constituencies to demand:
- An immediate ceasefire by all parties;
- The adequate provision of humanitarian aid;
- Accountability for the perpetrators and enablers of war crimes, in accordance with international law;
- The comprehensive dismantling of the brutal and dehumanizing regime of Israeli apartheid, including its occupation and blockade, with full rights and equality for all living in the Holy Land, and the right of return for all refugees; and,
- An end to US military aid to Israel, an end to settler violence and IDF complicity in the West Bank, the release of all Palestinian and Israeli hostages, administrative detainees, and political prisoners, and full compliance with international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions.
The laws of armed conflict are clear. Neither civilians nor civilian institutions can be targeted. Yet, Palestinians in Gaza have been under the most intense and indiscriminate Israeli bombardment ever, targeting homes, markets, schools and universities, hospitals, health workers, journalists, and the entire civilian infrastructure, while cutting off all food, water, medicine and fuel. Since October 7th, Israeli forces have murdered upwards of 12,000 Palestinians in Gaza, 5000 of whom are children. Over a million and a half have been displaced, particularly as a result of “evacuation” orders, which amount to ethnic cleansing. Furthermore, prominent Israeli genocide scholar Raz Segal has described what Israel is doing in Gaza as “a textbook case of genocide.” Over 800 international scholars, including world authorities on genocide studies, as well as US and Palestinian human rights organizations and UN experts have all warned of an unfolding genocide. Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians, supported militarily and politically by the US and major European powers, is undermining the legitimacy of international law in the eyes of many states.
We confess that we ourselves, our religious leaders, and our institutions have too often dismissed the example of Jesus when we have stood with the status quo and allied ourselves with the powers that be. Too often, we have failed to name and confront false prophets who provide ideological cover for authority and its abuses, destructive wars, and the neglect, exploitation, and sacrifice of those most vulnerable upon the altars of profit and politics. Religious devotion is being weaponized in the service of profound evil. In Palestine/Israel, there are countless ways in which religious ideologies and institutions have been employed in the service of violent dispossession and oppression, working to provide theological justification, financial capital, and political cover for decades of land confiscation, ethnic cleansing, settlement activity, and apartheid. And now, genocide itself.
Hearing the voice of the biblical prophets, however, and recognizing how often Jesus draws from them in his life and ministry, must dispel any notion that God stands with the status quo or alongside the agents of imperial violence. As followers of Jesus, along with those who seek to stand in the tradition of the biblical prophets, we are morally bound to raise our voices and stand against the perpetrators of grave injustice—particularly genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid—and their ideological enablers. As people of faith, we must expose, condemn, and confront injustice and deconstruct death-dealing theologies and ideologies wherever they are found.
We acknowledge the reality that Zionism emerged within a context of abhorrent, deplorable anti-Jewish discrimination and violence, and we lament that Palestinians have been unjustly paying the price for centuries of western bigotry.
The eyes of history are upon us. We therefore: confess our complicity; raise our collective voice in protest; renounce the complicity and cowardice of our leaders and institutions along with the ideological justifications constructed in defense of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid; and call for an accountability for war crimes undertaken now in Gaza and throughout historic Palestine.
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people of the land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy. Likewise, help us to eliminate our cruelty to these, our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—adapted from The Book of Common Prayer
You can read, sign and endorse this statement here: Christian Organizations Demand Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza — Friends of Sabeel North America (fosna.org)
Only a full ceasefire will deliver aid safely and effectively, Christian leaders say
Sabeel-Kairos joins Christian Aid and 20 other Churches and organisations to call for a ceasefire and all governments with influence to bring an immediate end to the violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
Christian Aid, the undersigned church leaders and Christian organisations are gravely concerned by the mounting death toll across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing, maiming and kidnapping of civilians, which is a crime under international law and for which the perpetrators should be held accountable. We unequivocally condemn the violence carried out by Hamas in Israel on 7th October.
The subsequent Israeli military response in Gaza has added enormously to the toll of civilian suffering. Innocent Palestinians are going through an increasingly grave humanitarian crisis as a result the Israeli government’s strategy of relentless bombardment, which has left no place safe, and of siege, which effectively strangles life. The death toll in Gaza is over 7,000 and, with no end in sight, will no doubt dramatically rise.
We call on all governments with influence to help bring about an immediate end to the violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Specifically, we call for the following steps to be taken:
- Protection of civilians and an end to all violence, with adoption of a ceasefire without conditions.
- The unconditional and immediate release of all hostages.
- Unfettered and immediate humanitarian access, as urged by the UN, including immediate reconnection to water and electricity.
- Unequivocal support for the ICC to conduct a truly independent investigation into all war crimes to ensure accountability.
- Acknowledgement of the failure of the international community to effectively engage with any meaningful peace process, and a commitment to work ceaselessly from now on to address the root causes of the violence which must include an end to the occupation.
- The Most Revd John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan
- The Most Revd Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin & Bishop of Glendalough, Primate of Ireland and Metropolitan
- Most Revd William Nolan, Archbishop of Glasgow
- Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
- Rt Revd Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
- Susan Mitchell Assistant Clerk: General Meeting for Scotland (Quakers)
- Revd. Lindsey Sanderson, Moderator Elect, National Synod of Scotland, United Reformed Church
- Marian Pallister, Chair of Pax Christi Scotland
- Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary, Churches Together in England
- Revd Gill Newton, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain
- Deacon Kerry Scarlett, Vice-President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain
- Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
- Rt Revd Mary Stallard, Bishop of Llandaff
- Revd Andrew Charlesworth, Chair of the Wales synod of the Methodist Church in Wales
- Rev Paul Martin, Vale of Glamorgan Methodist Circuit.
- Revd Judith Morris, General Secretary, Baptist Union of Wales
- Rev Jeff Williams, President, Union of Welsh independents
- Christine Allen, Director, CAFOD
- Patrick Watt, CEO, Christian Aid
- Tim Livesey CEO Embrace the Middle East
- Ann Farr, Chair, Pax Christi England and Wales
- Charlotte Marshall, Director, Sabeel-Kairos UK
- Rev Chris Rose, Director Amos Trust
- John Cooper, Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation in England & Scotland
Urgent Statement: UK Charities Call for Immediate Ceasefire, Humanitarian Aid and Lifting Siege on Gaza
27th October 2023
As a group of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith charities working for the rights and wellbeing of the Palestinian people, we are united in issuing an urgent call to the government to support an immediate ceasefire, unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and to lifting the siege of Gaza.
We write with alarm at the current catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza, an emergency of unparalleled proportions in Palestine. Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza from land, sea, and air has left no place safe while the ‘complete siege’ continues to strangle civilian life, exacerbating the consequences of 16 years of punishing blockade. This indiscriminate assault has targeted hospitals, schools, universities, places of worship, the few remaining bakeries and entire neighbourhoods, decimating Gaza’s fragile civilian infrastructure.
Emergency services are in the midst of collapse, overwhelmed by the magnitude of devastation, and deprived of the fuel and essential supplies required to function. The admission of 74 trucks of aid does not come close to meeting the mounting need. The tragic toll stands at more than 7,000 killed at the time of writing, among them at least 2,900 children, and 18,482 injured. Over 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes, with no safe haven and uncertain prospects of return. Israel has also escalated attacks in the West Bank, with 103 Palestinians killed, either by settlers or soldiers, among them 32 children, and at least 1,266 arrested since 7th October.
Depriving civilians access to items essential for their survival such as food, water, fuel and electricity, forcible displacement with no guarantee of return; indiscriminate attacks; targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure; and collective punishment are all prima facie war crimes for which there must be accountability. All parties are bound by the requirements of international law, and civilians must be protected from attack. Israel as the occupying power in Gaza has a duty to ensure the protection of the civilian population under its control. The UK has a legal obligation to respect and ensure respect for the rules governing armed conflict. The UK must do everything reasonably in its power to prevent the commission of acts that violate international law. It is also required to actively pursue accountability for those responsible for such violations.
This unprecedented situation has led to Palestinians recalling their mass expulsion in 1948 and the ongoing denial of Palestinian refugees’ right to return, and to chilling warnings by UN experts and legal scholars about the consequences for the Palestinian people if Israel’s military campaign and siege continues. In anticipation of a ground invasion, which threatens catastrophe for civilians in Gaza, we remind the government that it must act to avert further atrocities. We therefore demand with urgency that the government calls for an immediate ceasefire, unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and lifting of the siege on Gaza. While these actions alone are well beneath the minimum obligations the UK owes to the Palestinian people and the requirements for genuine peace and justice, they are nevertheless a crucial and urgent first step.
Statement endorsed by the following agencies:
|· Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)|
· Friends of Birzeit University (Fobzu)
· War on Want
· Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)
· FONSA (Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas)
|· Welfare Association|
· Sabeel-Kairos UK
· Islamic Relief UK
· Amos Trust
You can download the statement here: FINAL PP Gaza Statement 2023
A Call for Repentance: An Open Letter from Palestinian Christians to
Western Church Leaders and Theologians
Issued 20th October.
“Learn to do right; seek justice; defend the oppressed” (Isa 1:17).
We, at the undersigned Palestinian Christian institutions and grassroots movements, grieve and lament the renewed cycle of violence in our land. As we were about to publish this open letter, some of us lost dear friends and family members in the atrocious Israeli bombardment of innocent civilians on October 19, 2023, Christians included, who were taking refuge in the historical Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza. Words fail to express our shock and horror with regard to the on-going war in our land. We deeply mourn the death and suffering of all people because it is our firm conviction that all humans are made in God’s image. We are also profoundly troubled when the name of God is invoked to promote violence and religious national ideologies.
Read the full letter and sign the petition here: Petition · An Open Letter from Palestinian Christians to Western Church Leaders and Theologians · Change.org
#CeasefireNOW Global petition
Join us in calling for a #CeasefireNOW to ensure the protection of civilians in Gaza and Israel. Over 370 organisations (including us and our partners) have endorsed this call, and now you can add your name.
We have witnessed unfathomable death and destruction. Join thousands in signing this petition, and share it. It takes 1 minute to demand the protection of civilians.
Vigil and Ecumenical Prayers for Peace
Situation update: 17th October 2023
The situation in Palestine and Israel remains desperate. In Gaza, hundreds of thousands have fled south, but the bombings are continuing even in Khan Younis where many are now sheltering. The border with Egypt has also been targeted, and remains closed at this time. Over 2,800 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, and over 1,000 of them are children. Those left in the north are preparing themselves for the Israeli ground invasion, and the whole population faces a humanitarian crisis as water, food, fuel and medicines run out. The hospitals are on the brink of collapse, and the threat of water-borne diseases spreading is imminent.
In Israel the death count from Hamas’s attack on Saturday 7th October stands at 1,400. Around 4,000 are wounded, and 200 soldiers and civilians are believed to have been captured and are being held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas militants.
As the world’s eyes are on Gaza, settlers are being given the green light to attack communities in the West Bank. Last week approximately 58 Palestinians were killed in settler and IDF attacks. Towns and cities remain locked down, with physical barricades stopping people from travelling, and curfews imposed.
We ask you to continue to pray and take action in any way you can in these darkest of times.
NCPO letter to the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
As part of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations we have signed an open letter to the Foreign Secretary asking that, in the face of the escalating violence in Gaza and Israel, the UK Government use its influence to help create space for de-escalation and meaningful dialogue and to do all it can to avert a deepening humanitarian crisis and military conflict that could cost many more lives than have already been tragically lost.
This letter will be open for the next two days for you to add your own signature. Please read it, sign, and share it widely using the link below.
Update: 13th October 2023
Today the Israeli military has ordered 1.1 million Palestinians in the Northern Gaza strip to evacuate to the South. There is no where for them to go. The UN has said that this will be ‘“impossible without devastating humanitarian consequences”.
This morning the UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps endorsed the Israeli military’s ‘leave now’ order. Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer also supporting the collective punishment of Palestinians, whilst the UK sends military support to Israel. This makes the UK complicit in war crimes.
Write to the FCDO and your MP now and demand that the UK upholds international humanitarian law and prevents a genocide in Gaza. You can email the FCDO on and find your MPs email address here: https://www.writetothem.com/
The BDS movement has a sample letter you can use. Please add in the section about UK complicity in war crimes from the paragraph above.
Statement and Call to Action
10th October 2023.
We are currently witnessing an escalation in violence in Palestine and Israel that has brought death, injury, destruction and havoc to the lives of thousands of innocent people living there. We strongly condemn the use of violence and military force against civilians on all sides and mourn with those that have lost loved ones. The atrocities committed by Hamas militants inside Israel – the killing, maiming, and kidnapping of civilians rightly invokes outrage and condemnation. Israel’s military violence against civilians in Gaza, including the destruction of residential buildings that has wiped out whole families, and now the cutting off of water, food, electricity and fuel which constitutes collective punishment require equal condemnation. Both parties have potentially committed war crimes/crimes against humanity and should be held to account for their actions. Ultimately violence will only beget more violence and will not address the root cause of the problem or seek to find solutions and ways forward based on justice, equality, and peace.
The events of the last few days have not happened in silo. For 75 years the Palestinian people have suffered oppression, domination, displacement, dispossession, and denial of their basic rights. 56 of those years have been endured under military occupation, with every aspect of their lives controlled by Israel. In Gaza, the last 16 years have seen the imposition of a brutal blockade which has devastated the economy, caused unimaginable suffering for the people of Gaza, and wrought environmental destruction on the land.
In 2012 the United Nations warned the world that Gaza would be unliveable in 2020. We are now 3 years past that, and there has been no meaningful international pressure on Israel to lift its inhumane blockade. 80% of the population rely on aid to survive, 50% are children, only 2% of the population are estimated to be affiliated with military groups. International law is clear – collective punishment of a population, held as responsible for the actions of Hamas, is illegal.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Israel continues to steal land, property, and natural resources from Palestinians, increasing the number of settlements and settler outposts, and the settlers that live in them. The election of far-right members to the Israeli Knesset earlier this year has emboldened those settlers to the point that violence and attacks on Palestinians, their property, and their lands has increased three-fold. Before this latest escalation over 200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank this year so far – the deadliest year on record since 2005.
The occupation is illegal, both in its unprecedented length and permanency, and in how it is imposed. But recent analysis by leading human rights organisations has moved us beyond occupation to the conclusion that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid against Palestinians both inside the Palestinian territories, and even within their own state.
Considering the above, where is the international community in all of this? There has been deafening silence and complicity in allowing this to carry on for 75 years. The UK Government has been hiding behind the sham of supporting a two-state solution, long acknowledged by many in Palestine and Israel as dead in the water. They have allowed impunity to continue for decades, failing to support international mechanisms of accountability. In the last few days, they have expressed unwavering support for Israel, offering diplomatic, intelligence and security support. They have failed to publicly apply any pressure on Israel to comply with international humanitarian law and protect civilians in Gaza.
A Call to Action
As a UK-based advocacy organisation, focussing on the role that Churches, civil society and politicians can take in supporting a just, equal, and fair society for all in Palestine and Israel, we call for the following actions to take place:
- To the UK Government – Insist on the immediate protection of civilians, to prevent further atrocities taking place. Insist on the upholding of International Humanitarian Law by all sides, and support mechanisms such as investigations by the ICC and ICJ  hold to account those that have committed crimes. In the longer term, cut military ties and trade with Israel until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal occupation, blockade, and apartheid policies.
- To the UK Churches – we call on you to speak truth to power, as written in scripture. We call on you to fulfil your mission as the Church in standing on the side of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor and those without voice. We ask you to take actions to ensure that you do not support, either financially or spiritually, the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. We ask you to respond to the call of Palestinian Christians – ‘Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love?’ 
- To Civil Society – We call on you to immediately write to your MPs to demand that the UK upholds international humanitarian law and calls for the protection of civilians in Gaza. We ask you to support non-violent actions that can bring about economic, cultural, and social pressure on Israel to end its 75-year long denial of Palestinian rights. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  are the only response now to an entrenched apartheid regime, as history has taught us. We call on you to challenge the UK Government’s Anti-boycott Bill which takes away our right to non-violent protest that supports justice and peace. 
- To all of the above – We call on you to use your influence, relationships, and good offices to help bring about a meaningful process by which this endless cycle of violence is halted, and justice, equality and peace are placed at the centre for all those whose lives are affected.
A prayer from Sabeel Jerusalem
Heavenly Father, as this period of violence and bloodshed unfolds, we pray for Your justice and mercy. We pray for all who are suffering. We lift up all innocent people in particular the people of Gaza who are vulnerable and helpless to the Israeli airstrikes. May we remember that the recent events are connected to the long history of the Nakba and Israeli systematic oppression against the Palestinian people. Lord, only a just and lasting solution will end the cycle of violence. We call on the international community to work towards this end.
Lord in Your mercy…hear our prayer.
 International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice.
Our Partners’ Statements
Our partners in the region, Kairos Palestine and the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre have also issued statements on the violence in Israel and Palestine.