UN Secretary General on Gaza

After a brief ceasefire on Thursday, the Israel Defence Forces have begun a ground incursion on the Gaza Strip. I can't find any updated statement so far from the White House or the State Department but U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had this to say during a press conference that had been called to introduce the new Special Envoy and Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura and Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy.

"In the past hour or so, Israel has launched a ground offensive against Gaza," the secretary general said. "I regret that despite my repeated urgings, and those of many regional and world leaders together, an already dangerous conflict has now escalated even further. In the past 24 hours, there have been a number of incidents involving the deaths of civilians, including the appalling killing of four boys on a beach in Gaza City. I urge Israel to do far more to stop civilian casualties. There can be no military solution to this conflict. This applies as much to Israel-Palestine as it does to Syria."

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The U.S. bishops have not issued a statement on the Gaza incursion, but in a recent "action alert," urging calls to Congress on the conflict, the bishops' Office of Justice, Peace and Human Development wrote:

The events over the past several weeks demonstrate that the current political status quo is not sustainable. The bloodshed and threats of violence committed by Israelis against Palestinians, and by Palestinians against Israelis, cannot continue. Such actions will only breed more hatred and reprisals, and will not bring what both peoples are truly searching for - a lasting peace. Good, decent and innocent people, throughout the region, are being killed and maimed by this violence. The Latin Patriarch and Pope Francis have spoken out about the need to end the violence and work for a lasting peace.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have long called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will build just and lasting peace for all people of the Holy Land. The USCCB and CRS continue to work to bring about peace in numerous ways, first and foremost through prayer, but also on the ground. For CRS as a humanitarian organization working with the poor and marginalized in the region, the increasing violence and tension in the Holy Land has impacted our ability to provide aid to those most in need. Our staff cannot do their job of helping others if they are forced to remain home, behind closed doors, because it is too dangerous to go outside. Further, the destruction that is being wrought today only makes our work that much harder when our staff are finally able to exit their homes.

Now, more than ever, your voice is needed! Contact President Obama, your Senators, and Representative today and urge them to:

• Exert pressure on both the Israelis and Palestinians to end all hostilities, and return to peace talks;    

• Provide both parties concrete benefits for engaging in talks in good faith, and consequences for actions detrimental to achieving peace; and 

• The U.S. must refrain from taking actions that embolden those not interested in peace. We as a country must acknowledge that the responsibility of the escalation of violence rests on all parties, and that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders have the opportunity and duty to seek out peace for their people.

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