LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Ireland’s bishops are calling for and to the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the release of refugees in a conflict that has lasted around 8 months.

Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking over 200 more as hostages. Israel then declared war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has so far left an estimated 37,000 people dead.

“We renew our call for an immediate cessation to the Israel/Hamas war in Gaza,” the Irish bishops said in a statement released on June 20.

“As well as the innocent population affected by this conflict, we are asking people of faith to pray for the safety of staff of humanitarian agencies who, in their life-saving work, must be allowed unhindered access to deliver vital aid into Gaza to prevent further deaths by starvation and malnutrition,” the bishops said.

On May 28, the Republic of Ireland recognized Palestine as a sovereign and independent state and agreed to establish full diplomatic relations between Dublin and Ramallah.

In a statement, the Government noted the tragic backdrop the announcement and called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Israeli hostages and unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

“This decision of Ireland is about keeping hope alive. It is about believing that a two-state solution is the only way for Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace and security,” said Simon Harris, the Irish prime minister.

“We had wanted to recognize Palestine at the end of a peace process however we have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive. I again call on Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to listen to the world and stop the humanitarian catastrophe we are seeing in Gaza,” he added.

Hamas is not a part of the Palestinian State headquartered in the West Bank.

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told family members of the remaining captives held in Gaza that Israeli forces “will not leave the Gaza Strip until all the kidnapped return,” according to Israeli Army Radio.

Netanyahu said Israel “will eliminate Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities.”

The UN Human Rights Agency issued a report indicating the IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war in Gaza.

The report said unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, in line with a State or organizational policy, may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity.

“Israel’s choices of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since 7 October, including through the extensive use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas, have failed to ensure that they effectively distinguish between civilians and fighters,” the UN report says.

“Civilian lives and infrastructure are protected under IHL. This law lays out the very clear obligations of parties to armed conflicts that make protection of civilians a priority,” it continues.

In their statement on Thursday, the Irish bishops said the Israel-Hamas war “is an attack on all of humanity.”

“When people are deprived of basic human dignity and of necessary humanitarian aid, we are all made poorer,” the bishops said.

“Efforts by the United Nations to address the humanitarian crisis are welcome.  But, the people of the Holy Land – and around the globe – need clear and courageous leadership from world leaders,” the bishops continue. “Who is prepared to put the plight of people and the dignity of every human person as the overriding priority in bringing this outrage to an end?”

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