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Mideast Crisis

July 21, 2006



Dear Friends & Colleagues,

The conflict in the Middle East has weighed heavily on all our hearts the past two weeks. While the WEA condemns the violent confrontation and urges all sides to cease retaliatory actions, there is a deeper concern about the welfare of the people living in the region as we waited for information specifically on the condition of our brothers and sisters caught in the conflict.

Today, the first set of reports from our member bodies in the affected areas was received – from the United Christian Council in Israel (UCCI), , Gaza and the West Bank . For security reasons, certain individuals and organizations will not be named.

As we continue to pray and urge all sides to cease the hostilities, let us consider the specific needs of our Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli brothers and sisters living in the battle zones. Below is a copy of UCCI’s statement, a brief summary on Lebanon and a report on the situation in the West Bank.

Israel - UCCI Statement

To all who pray for the peoples of the Middle East,

Lebanon:
We have entered into a time of great stress and uncertainty in the Middle East . Israel and Hezbollah are at war with one another. It all began on Wednesday the 12th of July with an attack on two Israeli armored vehicles who were driving on the Israeli side of the Israeli Lebanese border. Most of the soldiers inside the vehicles were killed instantly; two others were abducted and brought to Lebanon. Israel responded swiftly by military action. The rest of the story is unfolding before the world\'s eyes and we hear daily how the situation escalates.

The IDF has been carrying out strikes against targets that have affected many people. We personally know people from a local evangelical organization who have been evacuated from a town just outside of Beirut , in spite of the severe damage to the infrastructure. I just received word that the whole team made it to the leader\'s parents home which means that they are in a safer place.

Gaza:
In Gaza it also started the same way; Palestinians crossed the border, killing two soldiers and abducting a third. This happened two weeks before the Lebanese crises. Now three weeks into the stand off the Palestinians in Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis. Electricity is unavailable to sporadic at best, this means; no cooling, no storing whatever food is left, and no communication. Other social services have also broken down e.g. water and sewage
. There have been many deaths, militants as well as innocents.

Israel:
The situation in Israel is also bad. In the north, people are living in constant fear of rocket attacks. They are basically living in bomb shelters. Normal life is disrupted, to say the least. From the moment that rocket warning sirens begin, the citizens have one minute to react. The people feel cornered and scared. Some personal friends of ours are living in the north where there have been many rocket attacks from . They are a young couple who are expecting their first child. They are safe but they have already packed their bags just in case they need to evacuate.

Prayer:
Over and over we see that the larger population is effected by the actions of a minority. Pray that those with extreme views will be brought to reason, nothing less than a miracle can bring this about.

Pray also for moderation and that voices of realism can speak reason to those who make decisions which bring life or death.

The greatest threat is escalation. Please pray with us that the crisis will not spread to other countries and pray for a decrease of the attacks on both sides.

Please pray for a quick end and a lasting solution to this conflict

Lebanon

Refugees living in south of and Beirut are especially affected by the results of this conflict. Access to food and other critical relief services are difficult and those who are willing to help fear for their own safety. Please pray for the protection for our brothers and sisters as they seek to help those in need with the limited resources they have. For the safety of those working in these areas, they wish to remain anonymous.


West Bank

The situation here is difficult. Different areas in the country face different challenges. First in Gaza, since the renewal of violence, the inhabitants of Gaza do not have stable supply of electricity which affects the water treatment plants supplying clean water and other institutions that need power to operate. Large parts of the infrastructure have been destroyed. Another impact is the imposed closure of the borders to Israel and Egypt. Gaza does not have any resources and access to the outside is vital. Inhabitants rely on humanitarian organizations for the supply of basic life provisions. Another aspect is the daily fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians. Rockets are sent into and the Israelis are doing airstrikes and military actions. The implications are that no one can get into or out of Gaza , there is a lack of nutrition and medical care and the number of civilians killed in the conflict is increasing. Since the embargo imposed after the election of Hamas to power, civil servants who rely on government salary, have not received money.

Our concern is that all of the above will drive people to join radical groups and increase the hatred. Our assessment is that the current policy will encourage extremism. The church finds itself in the middle of the situation and is affected like the rest of society. It is trying to witness in this situation of daily survival.

In the West Bank, the situation is bad but better than in Gaza . The West Bank also suffers under closure and embargo. There is less military fighting in the area but there are ongoing small clashes. More and more Christians are leaving. The church in the West Bank is growing. It seems that in hard times, the people turn to God. Till now there have been no disturbances in the summer activities. Musalaha will host a children\'s camp in a small Christian village in the West Bank in August.

In Israel the whole Galilee area is paralyzed by the war. People are confined to their homes and the shelters. Many have left their homes temporarily and gone south. Businesses are closed. Most rockets have hit land rather than buildings but yesterday two children were killed in Nazareth , 100m from the Nazarene church. Many of the summer activities of the churches have been postponed, cancelled or relocated.

If you wish to offer financial support or would like more information, please contact Sylvia Soon at sylvia@worldevangelicalalliance.com

Yours In Christ,

Geoff Tunnicliffe

International Director

www.worldevangelicalalliance.com