Some will see the recent and tragic deaths of foreign aid workers in Gaza as the definitive ‘red line’ that Israel has crossed, signifying that their military action must now cease. But that red line was crossed weeks – no, months – ago when, with the bombing of hospitals, the Gazan people lost access to proper medical care. When they began to starve because of the targeting of critical infrastructure and the inaccessibility of aid routes.

This war must stop and it must stop now.

An alternative way must be found that provides security for Israel, justice for Palestinians and peace for all. That journey starts with an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages and sustained humanitarian access for the provision of essential supplies to those most in need.

What began – quite legitimately – as Israel’s right to defend its people in the wake of the reprehensible atrocities inflicted upon them by Hamas on 7 October is fast becoming a brutal and uninhibited collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Any ground operation in the south of Gaza will only compound an already intolerable situation.

We know that the International Court of Justice has found that Israel has a case to answer on whether its actions in Gaza amount to genocide. The scarcity of humanitarian access to and within Gaza and the continued bombardment of civilian areas only add to the case against them.


The recent announcement that Israel intends to increase aid deliveries to Gaza, including through the port of Ashdod and the Erez crossing, is welcome. But that decision must be actioned now – and it must result in meeting the target of 500 aid trucks  per day into Gaza. The current daily average of 169  is a recipe for famine.

The latest casualties – the seven aid workers killed by Israeli drone attacks on 1 April – raise the question that Israel has gone too far in its offensive and are an abrupt wake-up call for those arming Israel. Alongside the US and many European states, our own nation’s continued militarisation of the conflict, and its reluctance to call for Israel’s restraint, bring shame upon us all and make the prospects of safety for both nations an ever-diminishing hope.

Canada’s decision to suspend future arms sales to Israel is welcomed. Other countries now need to consider suspending arms transfers in response to the systematic violations of international humanitarian law, both in Gaza and across the occupied Palestinian territories. Given reports that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law, the British Government ought no longer to accept Israel’s assurances on compliance with its legal obligations as credible. I commend the Foreign Secretary for his unremitting engagement with this very complex nexus of events.

Nevertheless, we must refuse to give up hope – Gaza is not a lost cause and the international community must not stand by and wring its hands in despair, as if nothing can be done. We can make a difference and we must do whatever we can to bring lasting peace to this region.

Enough atrocities in Gaza; enough violence, enough death, and destruction. This war is fuelled by fear and by hatred, but I pray daily that these impulses will not have the final word. I hold on to the hope that peace is possible, even in the midst of this world’s darkest hour.

May we no longer be silent in the face of these atrocities. May love triumph. May hope prevail.

Christopher Chessun is the Bishop of Southwark and member of the House of Lords

Bishop Christopher is also a Patron of Friends of the Holy Land

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Picture by Ramy Tarazi, sheltering at St Porphyrios Church, Gaza