“In the name of God, I address all those responsible for this spiral of violence so that immediately on all sides the weapons would be laid down.”
That was the cry of Pope Benedict XVI July 30, after an Israeli air raid in Qana, Lebanon, led to the deaths of some 60 civilians.
The current hostilities in Lebanon began when extremist Islamic groups — Hamas and Hezbollah — launched rocket attacks on populated civilian areas in the north of Israel prompting a response by the Israeli army.
Not only those groups but the governments of Syria and Iran who openly support them, bear the responsibility of initiating this crisis. Although many, including the Catholic Church, are sympathetic to their desire to have their own Palestinian state, their terrorist actions do not help their cause.
On the other hand, Israel has a responsibility to respond proportionately to those attacks. Their right of self-defense should not have led them to an all-out attack that included civilian areas. Military response in self-defense was necessary but it should have been more restrained, focusing on military targets.
The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not come about through military action by either side. Violence in almost all cases simply perpetuates hatred. Instead, dialogue and understanding should be leading a process to guarantee both peoples to live as neighbors with secure borders and in peace.
“You cannot reestablish justice, create a new order and build an authentic peace by turning to the instrument of violence,” the pope said.
We hope those involved will listen.