ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Christian and Muslim religious leaders on Thursday condemned Israel for its “brutal” massacre in Gaza, accusing the Jewish state of shedding the blood of innocent Palestinians on land deemed holy by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike.
More than a million Palestinians have been displaced from northern Gaza since Oct. 13, when the Israeli military ordered residents to evacuate to the south on 24 hours’ notice.
Israeli warplanes have targeted densely populated areas in Gaza, saying it is retaliating to a full-pronged attack launched by Hamas’ military wing on Oct. 7. Israel’s war over the past two months has killed over 15,000 Palestinians and injured scores of others, as international aid agencies raise alarm over the deteriorating human rights violations in Palestine.
“Today, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, voicing our opposition to the brutality inflicted upon humanity in Gaza,” Father Sarfraz Simon, a reverend of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rawalpindi, told participants of a Palestine Solidarity Conference in Islamabad.
The conference was attended by a host of Muslim leaders, including Hafiz Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East, to express solidarity with Palestinians.
Simon pointed out that Pope Francis had also condemned Israeli atrocities in Gaza, adding that cruelty toward innocents is not permitted by any religion.
“Israel is committing atrocities by shedding the blood of innocent people on the holy land,” he said. Simon said Israeli atrocities were targeting the innocent irrespective of their religion in Gaza.
In October, Israeli warplanes targeted the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza, one of the oldest in the city.
“One of the oldest churches was destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza where around 25 Christians were also killed,” he said.
“Similar to Islam, Christianity and Judaism both declare the killing of an innocent person to be illegal.”
Addressing the conference, Ashrafi demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be tried by the International Court of Justice for war crimes in Gaza.
“A special tribunal should be established under the United Nations to investigate Israel for its war crimes in Gaza,” Ashrafi said.
He said Pakistan had raised the plight of Gaza on every global platform, saying that everyone in Pakistan wanted Israel’s war to end.
“Along with Muslims, the Christian community is also raising its voice against Israeli atrocities,” Ashrafi said.
Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi, central vice president of the Shia Ulema Council of Pakistan, urged Israel’s supporters to introspect at the killings in Gaza.
“Supporters of Israel should introspect and question whether it is justified to indiscriminately kill innocent people, including women and children,” he said.