United Methodist statement
October 17, 2000

The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church
Statement on the Current Crisis in the Palestinian Territories and Israel

The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church is dismayed and deeply saddened by the escalation in the spiral of violence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, following Member of Knesset Ariel Sharon's visit to al-Aqsa Mosque and the Haram al-Sharif, on September 28, 2000. Our hearts grieve as we learn from our missionaries and mission partners of the number of persons killed and wounded in this round of violence, exemplified in the death of twelve year old Muhammad Rami al-Dura crouching in fear next to his father at Netzarim Junction in Gaza.

We recognize the current popular protest is an expression of deep Palestinian frustration over the ongoing disrespect, dehumanization, and denial of their basic human and national rights by an unjust political system.

We are appalled by the excessive use of force by Israeli military personnel and police forces, especially against children and youth, in efforts to disperse Palestinian demonstrators and protestors on both sides of the Green Line. These tragic events have left over 90 persons dead and thousands wounded, many of whom are children and youth who will continue to suffer from these serious and incapacitating injuries. We deplore the participation of children and youth in the fighting, as well as their sponsorship by other persons and/or governments for political gain. We are also concerned about reports of Palestinian police or security forces using small scale and occasional shooting, particularly when mixed-in with unarmed civilian protestors.

We are deeply disturbed that Israeli forces have directly and willfully impeded the work of medical personnel and refused to allow persons, including children and youth, to gain access to emergency treatment. Medical rescue teams and their ambulances clearly marked by internationally recognized symbols of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have been repeatedly fired upon, with three paramedics being killed during the course of their duties.

We are further concerned that the latest escalation of violence could easily spread throughout the region and across the globe.

We therefore call upon:

Israel to immediately insure respect for international law by ordering its forces to desist from exercising indiscriminate and disproportionate force;

the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people to refrain from engaging in small arms fire and shooting, and instead turn to non-violent forms of protest and demonstration;

both parties to support the establishment of an independent international commission to investigate the recent tragic events;

the United States Government to call upon an urgent meeting of the Security Council to pass a binding resolution that the state of Israel desists from further military action;

the United States Government to support the call for a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission to review the human rights situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories;

the US Government to halt the sale of new armaments to Israel;

the international community to ensure that steps are taken to reduce friction and thereby reduce the potential for conflict, including, the removal of Israeli forces from occupied Palestinian Territories

October 17, 2000