Catholic World News Service
Daily News Briefs
[DEC. 13, 2000]


JERUSALEM, Dec. 13, 00 ( - A delegation of US
religious leaders has criticized Israel for using excessive
force against Palestinian demonstrators and called for peace
in the region.

The group of 26 leaders representing US churches said they
were shocked by the bloodshed in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. At least 312 people, mainly Palestinians, have died
in the 11 weeks of fighting.

"We have come as an ecumenical delegation of the United
States' churches in this holy season in anticipation of the
birth of the 'Prince of Peace' in this land," the delegation
said in a statement. "We have seen the exploded shells made
in the USA found in ambulances and in families' homes. We
have seen the impact of Israeli settlements that
strangulate and isolate the Palestinian people from one

"We have heard the terror in the voices of Israelis Jews
and Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike," the
statement added. They called on Israel "to end the use of
disproportionate force in violation of international norms,
as when tanks and helicopters are used to attack civilian

Episcopal Bishop Vincent Warner said he was particularly
moved by a nine-year-old Palestinian girl in Gaza who
pleaded with the delegation to help protect Palestinians.
"She represents many of the children who had seen their
lands plowed under and their houses taken away and it's
violence no child should see," Warner said.