In a statement released by Lambeth Palace, Justin Welby said over two million civilians in Gaza, half of them children, are facing a ‘catastrophe’.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has appealed for a humanitarian corridor in Gaza as civilians “cannot bear the costs of terrorists”.
In a statement released by Lambeth Palace, Justin Welby said more than two million civilians in Gaza, half of whom are children, are facing a “catastrophe” in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The siege on Gaza has stopped the passage of food, water, medicine and electricity into the territory and the archbishop said a humanitarian corridor and convoy are needed “as rapidly as possible”.
He condemned the attacks by Hamas, saying “our hearts are broken open” by the grief of Israelis and Jewish people “for whom this trauma and loss stands in the dark and terrible shadow of the worst days of their history”.
He said the anger felt by Israelis at the “cruelty” they have experienced is “entirely justified”.
“But in the face of a ground offensive in Gaza, I plead that the sins of Hamas are not borne by the citizens of Gaza, who themselves have faced such suffering over many decades,” he added.
“The price of evil cannot be paid by the innocent. Civilians cannot bear the costs of terrorists.
“International humanitarian law recognises that, for the sake of everyone’s humanity, some acts can never be permissible in the chaos of warfare.
“I pray that Israel does everything it can to limit the harm caused to innocent civilians.”
He continued: “Over two million civilians in Gaza, half of them children, are facing a catastrophe.
“A humanitarian corridor and convoy are needed as rapidly as possible, as set out in the Geneva Conventions.”
Mr Welby added that he prays particularly for the Anglican-run Ahli Arab Hospital and all those caring for the injured who need medical supplies and generator fuel.
He said he joins the US secretary of state and others in urging the Israeli government to “exercise their right of defence with the wisdom that might break the cycles of violence under which generations have struggled”.
He also joined calls for the country’s military response to be “proportional” and to “discriminate between civilians and Hamas”.
Both the UK and the US have been among those offering firm backing to Israel but concerns have been expressed in the UN and elsewhere about the impact on civilians in Gaza.
Downing Street said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday after agreeing to send Royal Navy vessels and Royal Air Force surveillance planes to support Tel Aviv and called for Israel to “protect ordinary Palestinians and facilitate humanitarian aid”.