DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (FOX 2) - A group of metro Detroit Imams are calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza as Israel’s war with Hamas erupted again on Friday, Dec. 1.
The religious leaders convened at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights to advocate for peace amid escalating turmoil.
Airstrikes hit houses and buildings in the Gaza Strip minutes after a week-long truce expired.
"60 days of atrocities after Oct. 7. Have some mercy for those women and children," said Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, with the Islamic House of Wisdom, during the Thursday gathering.
Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City and southern parts of the enclave last week, urging civilians to flee to avoid the fighting, health authorities in the besieged territory reported.
However, United Nations officials say there are no safe places in Gaza nearly a week after Israel widened its offensive into the southern half of the territory.
In a letter to the council, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council on Wednesday of an impending "humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza and urged its members to demand an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.
Guterres invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which says the secretary-general may inform the council of matters he believes threaten international peace and security. "The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis," he said.
Rafah, at Gaza’s far southern end by the Egyptian border, has become one of the few areas where Palestinians can seek refuge. Tens of thousands of people have flowed into the town from Khan Younis and other areas.
Normally home to around 280,000 people, Rafah was already hosting more than 470,000 displaced people. Shelters and homes have overflowed, and many people have been sleeping in tents or in the streets. Across Gaza, 1.87 million people — over 80% of the population of 2.3 million — have been driven from their homes.
"Everybody is saying ‘where is justice, where is morality, where is the voice of conscience in our politicians,’" Elahi said.
Even in Rafah, safety has proven elusive. Several strikes hit the area late Wednesday and early Thursday, sending a wave of wounded and dead streaming into a nearby hospital.
Israel’s attacks have killed more than 17,100 people in Gaza — 70% of them women and children — and wounded more than 46,000, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which says many others are trapped under rubble. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.
Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war and resulted in the taking of some 240 people hostage. An estimated 138 hostages remain in Gaza, mostly soldiers and civilian men, after 105 were freed during a cease-fire in late November.
The requests these religious leaders are making are now becoming a repeated refrain. The concerns are basic to humanity: the threat of starvation, disease, and exposure to freezing weather.
"It’s time for politicians to wake up, and say stop. One word. President Biden is able to end this invasion and this genocide with one word – and that is 'stop,'" Elahi said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.