Last week Friday, 30 March 2018, saw tensions escalate in Gaza to make it the worst day since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town, reacts with horror to the massacre and has issued a statement supporting a call for a United Nations commission of inquiry into the ‘Passover Massacre’. He says his “solidarity and prayers are with those who work tirelessly for justice and peace in the Holy Land.”
Among those who joined in a peaceful protest march in Gaza on Good Friday, 18 Gazans were shot and killed by members of the Israeli Defence Force. Archbishop Stephen Brislin has reacted with horror. He is a member of the Holy Land Coordination team of bishops from North America, Europe and South Africa who meet with Israeli and Palestinian groups to promote dialogue and peace. He is a regular visitor to Gaza.
In his statement, the archbishop noted that “Land dispossession remains a key issue in the struggle of the Palestinian people.” Commenting on one of his previous trips to Gaza he noted that the people he spoke with expressed more frustration than in the past. “The young people feel they must decide between staying in Gaza or leaving to find schools and jobs in other parts of the world,” said Brislin. “This affects the Christian community. The young people who stay in Gaza are the real heroes. They are willing to sacrifice in order to create families and Christian life in Gaza.”
Reacting to the tragedy which has become known as “The Passover Massacre” Brislin has issued the following statement:
We join with many around the world who were horrified at the killing of 18 Gazans near the militarised fence separating Gaza from Israel and the maiming and injuries of hundreds of protesters by the Israeli Defence Force.
That this violence occurred on the holiest of days in both the Jewish and Christian faith communities calendar, adds to our outrage. From news reports it seems clear that the Gazans were involved in a peaceful protest, the March of Return which was organised to coincide with the Land Day on 30th March.
Land dispossession remains a key issue in the struggle of the Palestinian people. The situation in the Gaza strip remains desperate and it is often referred to as the ‘world‘s largest open air prison.‘ It comes as little surprise that the people of this strip of land continue to express their political frustrations by means of non-violent protest. We support the call of the United Nations for a Commission of Inquiry into what has been called, ‘The Passover Massacre‘ by some.
Our solidarity and prayers are with those who work tirelessly for justice and peace in the Holy Land.
Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town
4 April 2018