In an open letter published in the Catholic publication “Spotlight Africa”, the Archbishop of Cape Town said that the fact that the violence last week occurred on “the holiest of days in both the Jewish and Christian faith communities calendar, adds to our outrage.”
Archbishop Stephen Brislin’s letter of solidarity came as Palestinians prepare for new protests along the Gaza border and Israel warned that its open-fire rules would not change.
Thousands of Palestinians are expected to gather at five spots near the Gaza border on Friday – as they did last week - while Israeli soldiers and snipers will take up positions on the other side of the fence.
Protest organisers said they were planning to try to stop smaller numbers of protesters approaching the fence and hurling stones or rolling burning tyres at Israeli troops, who killed 18 Palestinians on Good Friday.
It was the bloodiest day since a 2014 war. Another two Gazans have been killed since.
Please find below Archbishop Brislin’s “Statement on the killing of 18 Gazans by the Israeli Defence Force”:
We join with many around the world who were horrified at the killing of 18 Gazans near the militarized fence separating Gaza from Israel and the maiming and injuries of hundred of protesters by the Israeli Defence Force.
That this violence occurred on the holiest of days in both the Jewish and Christian faith communities calendar, adds to our outrage. From news reports it seems clear that the Gazans were involved in a peaceful protest, the March of Return which was organized to coincide with the Land Day on 30th March.
Land dispossession remains a key issue in the struggle of the Palestinian people. The situation in the Gaza strip remains desperate and is often referred to as the ‘world’s largest open air prison.’ It comes as little surprise that the people of this strip of land continue to express their political frustrations by means of non-violent protest. We support the call of the United Nations for a Commission of Inquiry into what has been called, ‘The Passover Massacre’ by some.
Our solidarity and prayers are with those who work tirelessly for justice and peace in the Holy Land.
+ Stephen Brislin
Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town