Irish bishops urge immediate end to Israel-Hamas hostilities as children in Gaza face starvation

By Michael Kelly

(OSV News) — Ireland’s Catholic bishops called on Israel and Hamas to immediately end hostilities in the Holy Land as the war triggered by the Oct. 7 attacks enters its sixth month, and U.N. agencies warn that children are dying of starvation in Gaza.

“What is happening in this region cannot be morally justified,” the hierarchy said in a March 5 statement from their spring plenary assembly in Maynooth.

“We call on the Israeli government to comply with basic human and international standards in ensuring that Palestinians have full and unimpeded access to food, water and basic safety requirements,” the bishops said.

“At the same time, we call on Hamas to release all hostages and to end missile attacks on Israel,” their statement added.

The intervention comes as the head of the World Health Organization warned that children are dying of starvation in northern Gaza.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency’s visits over the March 2-3 weekend to the Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals were the first since early October.

A lack of food resulted in the deaths of 10 children and “severe levels of malnutrition,” while hospital buildings have been destroyed, Ghebreyesus said in a post on social media.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reported over the past weekend that at least 15 children had died from malnutrition and dehydration at the Kamal Adwan hospital.

A 16th child died March 3 at a hospital in the southern city of Rafah, the Palestinian official news agency Wafa reported March 4.

Ghebreyesus reported “children dying of starvation, serious shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies, hospital buildings destroyed” in northern Gaza, where an estimated 300,000 people are living with little food or clean water.

Meanwhile, negotiations aimed at brokering a cease-fire in the war appear to have reached an impasse.

A U.S. official had said March 2 that Israel had “more or less accepted” the deal presented by mediators to the Israeli delegation in Qatar. However, two days of talks between Hamas and international mediators broke up in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, without any significant breakthroughs.

In their statement, the Irish bishops said that “as the death toll continues to rise, all possible pressure should be applied to prevail upon Israel to desist from military operations that impact so horrendously on innocent civilians.”

“Equally, any international support for Hamas terrorism is utterly unacceptable,” the prelates said.

The bishops also were critical of global powers for failing to address the underlying causes of the conflict. “The international community has failed to vindicate the right of the Palestinian people to a safe homeland, with statehood and freedom of movement, as part of a two-state solution which recognizes both Israel and Palestine,” they said.

The U.N. warned a week earlier that famine in Gaza was “almost inevitable.”

A senior U.N. aid official warned that at least 576,000 people across the Gaza Strip — one quarter of the population — faced catastrophic levels of food insecurity and one in six children under the age of 2 in the north were suffering from acute malnutrition.

Israel launched a large-scale military operation which they say will continue until Hamas is destroyed after the Islamist militant group killed approximately 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7 and took 253 hostages.

More than 30,500 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s health ministry, with Israel claiming that a third were terrorists and Palestinians claiming most of those who died were civilian victims.

Michael Kelly writes for OSV News from Dublin.

The post Irish bishops urge immediate end to Israel-Hamas hostilities as children in Gaza face starvation first appeared on OSV News.

Original Article