Stephen Kent

These hours-long “humanitarian cease-fires” called to interrupt the ongoing carnage between Israel and Gaza are obscene.

They are implemented, observed then violated. Their purpose is to allow time for civilians to leave their places of relative safety in search for food, medicine and taking the injured to medical care.

Civilian victims of the hubris of insurgents, military and posturing politicians are granted the privilege of a respite for 12 or 24 hours so they can try to prepare for being killed again.

It is the height of hypocrisy.

The cavalier disregard of life by both sides for their insignificant purposes is truly astounding. Hamas fires volleys and volleys of rockets into Israel. The Israelis retaliate with air and ground attacks with a cynical “sorry about that” if any explosives happen to demolish a school or homes.


Hamas wants to end a blockade of Gaza maintained by Israel and Egypt. Israel wants to destroy tunnels used by Palestinian militants to infiltrate Israel.

No position is worth the killing and maiming of toddlers or the killing of civilians. At the end of July, the United Nations, with figures collected from the Gaza health ministry, said at least 1,400 Palestinians had been killed and, of those, 250 were children. The number of militants killed is unclear, but the United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of the dead were civilians.

Israel Defense Forces say 62 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in Israel during the same time period.

The Vatican representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, reiterated the position of the Catholic Church that violence brings only destruction and that Israelis and Palestinians must engage in a dialogue, accepting each other’s right to exist peacefully in their own states with internationally recognized borders and that both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to decent living conditions.

Each day, on television’s nightly news shows, we see posturing politicians at microphones, giving the latest double talk about being close to an agreement. Each day, news shows have punch-to-the-gut images of wide-eyed bloodied children lying on stretchers wondering what happened to their home, to their parents.

The history of conflict in the Middle East is long and complex. But it does not require a foreign policy expert to know that mutilating and killing children is wrong and repugnant.

Pope Francis cut through the babble speak of the politicians to give much-needed perspective:

“I think most of all about children, whose hopes for a dignified life, a future are dashed, dead children, wounded children, mutilated children, orphans, children who have the leftovers of war for toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Stop it, please! I beg you with all my heart! It’s time to stop!” he said at his Angelus address July 27.


Kent is the retired editor of two archdiocesan newspapers and has a master’s degree in spirituality. He can be contacted at: