(New York, NY March 3, 2014) Christians For Fair Witness on the Middle East (“Fair Witness”) is very disturbed by the findings in Amnesty International’s recent Report accusing the Israeli Defense Forces (“IDF”) of routinely using excessive force against Palestinian protesters on the West Bank and needlessly causing numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries.
The IDF, on the other hand, said that the Report ignored what they called a substantial increase in Palestinian violence against Israel in the last year including shootings, the planting of explosive devices, attacks with blunt weapons, rock throwing and the abduction and murder of a soldier.
We have concerns about the methodology of the Report because according to an Israeli spokesperson, no Israeli military or other officials were interviewed or given a chance to give their own version of events or to respond to Amnesty International’s Report before its publication. Therefore, while we register our deep concern, fundamental due process keeps us from commenting directly about the Report at this time.
What we can say however, is that there has been far too much violence on both sides of this conflict. Far too many Israelis and Palestinians have died, and far too many have grown up and lived their entire lives in an atmosphere of fear and hostility. The senseless violence has to stop and the occupation has to end. Both people have to be free to live in their own sovereign states without fearing that a soldier will shoot their child at a protest or at a checkpoint or that a Qassam rocket will fall on them or a suicide bomber will blow up a bus they are riding in.
Fair Witness is praying that the current round of peace talks is the final round of peace talks. We pray that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas both summon up the historic courage to reach a compromise and sign off on a final status peace agreement. As Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College and Fair Witness Executive Committee member notes “it is only after their political leaders reach a negotiated settlement, that Israelis and Palestinians can begin the healing and reconciliation that is desperately needed after so many years of conflict and blood shed.”