Indigenous | Gaza

Christians walk 41km for Gaza ceasefire

Around 100 volunteers embarked on the 13-hour journey Saturday morning, the distance representing the length of the Gaza Strip.

Organised by Common Grace Aotearoa and Aotearoa Christians for Peace in Palestine, today’s walk in Tāmaki Makaurau is part of a national and also global movement spanning 18 countries, with over 145 walks planned during Lent, the Christian season leading up to Easter.

The event is run by Aotearoa Christians for Peace in Palestine and demands a lasting ceasefire in Gaza and urges the New Zealand government to grant humanitarian visas to Gazan family members living in Aotearoa.

“We are simply using our bodies to pray for peace in Palestine,” says event organiser Sophie Fasi-Mohenoa.

“We kicked off bright and early at the Holy Sepulchre church in town, and we are going all around, past the ports, Ōkahu Bay, Taumanu Reserve, and head back past Manugakiekie back to Holy Sepulchre.”

The ‘pilgrimages’ in Aotearoa began in Christchurch on Saturday, March 9, and end in Wellington on Thursday March 28, with a prayer service on the steps of Parliament inviting MPs from all parties to attend.

The walks symbolise the hardships faced by Palestinians due to Israeli military actions and forced evacuations. In the past four months alone, Israel’s assaults have displaced 1.9 million Gazans, with over 85% of the population affected and a death toll exceeding 30,000, including over 11,500 children.

Katrina Mitchell-Kouttab, a member of the Palestinian community, stresses the importance of unity.

“The suffering of Palestinians must lead to global change,” she says. “Palestine must be free, and our dead remembered. This is a time for unity.”

The small contingent of walkers in the Tāmaki leg are hoping to finish the 41km trek by 7pm Saturday.