25 March 2004

Methodist Church speaks out against ‘unlawful’ Hamas killing

Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs for the Methodist Church, made the following comments following the killing of the Hamas Leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli Army in Gaza on 22 March, 2004:

"The killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli Government seems likely to significantly escalate the cycle of violence in Israel/Palestine. The Methodist Church wants to acknowledge and affirm the assertion of the UK Government that this action is incompatible with the rule of law.

The path to peace in the Middle East is unlikely to be achieved through violence. We appeal to the Israeli Government to cease extra-judicial killings, which over the past 3 years have resulted in the deaths of over 100 bystanders including children. Suicide attacks, such as those organised by Hamas, that indiscriminately target Israeli citizens are counter-productive and harm prospects for meaningful dialogue.

We urge the EU, Russia, US and UN to intensify its dialogue with the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority. We ask the UK Foreign Office to consider how the British/US relationship might be used to require Israel to refrain from actions that are violent or contravene standards of international law.

Faith groups and peace organisations in both Israel and Palestine deserve our support and prayers for their tireless work in the cause of non-violence and an end to occupation. The Methodist Church is a partner of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). This initiative, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches, places volunteers to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions."

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