A Message to the Palestinian People
Christy Anastas, a Palestinian Christian who speaks internationally, has written an open letter to her own people at this time of renewed conflict in Israel.
As a Palestinian who has lived through war, lost family and friends, and witnessed the futility of conflict, I feel great empathy for Palestinians and Israelis in this time.
I understand well the fear that people are living with, hiding in shelters not knowing where the next rocket might land, wondering whether you might be killed at any moment.
What saddens me is that again, the suffering of millions of Israelis is not being highlighted, as if they are not human beings.
In the last week alone, over 750 rockets have rained on them yet the world, and my people, are not regarding this as a crime against humanity simply because no Israelis have been killed.
Under the Geneva Convention, firing missiles indiscriminately at civilian targets is a crime against humanity. They have not considered how Israel cares for her citizens by building a network of bomb shelters, reinforcing buildings and public structures and providing early warning systems for her people.
In contrast, the leaders of Gaza, given so much aid by the West, appear to have spent much of it on building and preparing for war, rather than helping or protecting the people.
"I challenge anyone to find a nation who would tolerate what Israel has had to from radicalised people."
Sadly, militants hide like cowards behind civilians, using public/civilian buildings as cover for launching rockets in order to draw Israeli fire. Women and children are called to be jihadists on rooftops and pay with their lives, defying the IDF's warnings to evacuate. It breaks my heart to see the one called the enemy, work so hard to avoid collateral-civilian damage, whereas the other, my own people, think of them as a credible sacrifice for their cause.
Statement by Hamas leadership
We Palestinians, whether Fatah, Hamas, Moslem or Christian, must accept responsibility for our actions and those among us who seek to perpetuate violence. We must recognise that violence only leads to more violence and must admit we are committing war crimes ourselves.
The consequence of our actions is that we are reaping what we have sown. Israel's military might, causing so much damage in Gaza, is a consequence, not a first strike reaction, to the provocation of those militants among us who for years have launched thousands of rockets onto Israel.
Violence can never be justified, and what Israel has found herself forced into doing is wrong. I challenge anyone to find a nation who would tolerate what Israel has had to from radicalised people who seek to destabilise the entire Middle-East. I call upon world leaders to force the Palestinian leadership to address this serious matter.
I call on my people to accept responsibility for their actions and restrain those among us who chose violence over diplomacy. Instead of constantly looking at the speck in Israel's eye, we must remove the plank from our own. If we truly want change, and care for our children who are dying as innocent victims in this conflict, we must be the change we want to see.
The Emmaus Group
14th July 2014
Christy Anastas is a co-founder of the UK-based Emmaus Group. The group's website states: "The vision for the Emmaus Group is to reconcile the church to her roots, protect those living in the Holy Land and defend truth in a world of lies and deception."
Ed footnote: Christy spoke earlier this year to an audience in Sweden. The video is being viewed many thousands of times and the rate has increased dramatically in the last week. A mobile phone 'app' has been developed to warn Israelis of incoming rocket attacks from Gaza. In the time take to eat an evening meal, one member of the Emmaus Group received 38 alerts.