"Israel has gone too far!”
This was Pastor Lance Lewis's response to The Reporter when he was asked for his reaction to the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war.
Pastor Lewis, who spoke exclusively in his personal capacity, is a well-known member of the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB). The pastor underscored that the blame for the ongoing atrocities in Gaza can be laid squarely on Israel’s prime minister.
"There are Christians on both sides! You are killing innocent people that are not connected to the situation with Hamas,” lamented Lewis.
He added, “You [Israeli government] are going too far. You cannot fully obliterate the whole group.... Just draw the line and call it a day! You might feel bad that you didn't achieve your target, but is your target to destroy an entire set of people? If you are trying to get after a small group of people, why kill everybody? Enough is enough time to stop the war, and just give peace a chance that is what we are saying.”
While Lewis’ comments on the ongoing war are his personal views, he informed that as far as he is aware NEAB will be meeting with members to discuss a possible revision of their stance relating to the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
He also took the opportunity to commend Acting Head of the Belize Council of Churches Alvin Benguche for doing "the right thing."
The Belize Council of Churches
Last week, Benguche told The Reporter that the churches were prepared to "evaluate" their current position on the Israeli-Hamas conflict given the "atrocities" that they have observed in Gaza.
"Based on that continued bombing and atrocities that are taking place … certainly, the Belize Council of Churches will have to evaluate what is currently taking place,” explained Benguche.
He also revealed that while the churches have met to discuss the matter, they have yet to formulate a public position. This is because last year the churches had raised concerns at the government’s decision to suspend diplomatic ties with Israel. The churches had, at the time, requested that the government reconsider their actions which they referred to as unfortunate.
Too soon to tell
Former Foreign Minister Godfrey Smith, speaking with The Reporter, told us that he would be withholding any comment at this point since an actual revision by the churches has not happened despite them claiming that they will.
Smith indicated that if that revision is completed, then he would be open to offering his comment on the matter.
Recently, five of Belize’s former foreign ministers, including Eamon Courtenay, Assad Shoman, and Smith, and former Prime Ministers Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow and Rt. Hon. Said Musa issued a joint statement calling, among other things, on the churches to join the call for a ceasefire in Israel.
The joint statement made the point that the recent order from the International Court of Justice has served to vindicate Belize's original position to suspend diplomatic ties with Israel.
The release said that despite not ordering an immediate ceasefire, the court had "ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; to ensure with immediate effect that its military does not commit any such acts; to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide; and to take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza."
The group, in their statement, also praised the Republic of South Africa for their decision to take Israel before the ICJ to answer to the crime of genocide.