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16 Catholic Bishops Visit Gaza, Decry "Terrible Destruction, Shocking Scandal;" Israeli Settlements "Illegal, Unjust"

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Also published here: http://libertyfight.com/2015/Catholic_bishops_political_leaders_must_defend_dignity_Gaza.html

An international delegation of sixteen Catholic bishops visited Gaza this week and released a signed statement January 15th. They also published hundreds of photos from their visit, which document the horrific conditions Gazans are forced to live in.

The Bishops' Conferences explained that 'human dignity was the basis for peace in the Holy Land' and signed a letter that began, "We witnessed the tragic consequences of the failure of both local and international politicians to advance peace. Human dignity is given by God and is absolute. The ongoing conflict assaults the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis, but in a particular way our commitment to the poor calls us to lift up the suffering people in Gaza."

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The bishops described "the terrible destruction caused by last year's war," calling Gaza "a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal, an injustice that cries out to the human community for a resolution.

"Many tens of thousands of families in Gaza lack adequate shelter. In the latest freezing weather, at least two infants died of exposure," the letter explained. The letter was published on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops. Many shocking photos of the bishop's visit accompanied the letter and revealed the tragic sqaulor that Gazans are forced to live in.

"The continuing blockade dramatically impedes rebuilding and contributes to desperation that undermines Israelis' legitimate hope for security," they said, adding, "We will also continue to oppose expansion of the settlement program, illegal under international law, which we witnessed acutely in Hebron. Its impact on the freedom of movement of Palestinians and the confiscation of lands is simply unjust."

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The Bishops also noted that "Despite the devastation, the appalling scenes of destruction we saw, and the fears of another war we heard, hope is alive in Gaza. We saw families resolutely rebuilding their lives. We witnessed a small Christian community that has enormous faith."

Here is their full signed statement and also, a video montage of the photos: [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hK0Q9tCzkXk ]

A PDF file of the bishops' letter is here. A shorter version press release was also issued by the bishops.

Bishops Call for Human Dignity as Basis of Peace
Statement of the Co-ordination of Bishops' Conferences in support of the Church in the Holy Land, 15 January 2015

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/church-in-the-holy-land-coordination-statement-2015-01-15.cfm

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"We came to pray with and support the Christian community and to promote peace and human dignity in this divided land.

"We witnessed the tragic consequences of the failure of both local and international politicians to advance peace. Human dignity is given by God and is absolute. The ongoing conflict assaults the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis, but in a particular way our commitment to the poor calls us to lift up the suffering people in Gaza. A year ago, we called Gaza 'a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal, an injustice that cries out to the human community for a resolution.' In the wake of the terrible destruction caused by last year's war, our presence reminded the small Christian community that they are not forgotten.

"Many tens of thousands of families in Gaza lack adequate shelter. In the latest freezing weather, at least two infants died of exposure. The continuing blockade dramatically impedes rebuilding and contributes to desperation that undermines Israelis' legitimate hope for security. It also creates intolerable levels of unemployment and pushes ordinary people into deeper poverty.

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