SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Thursday decrying the bloodshed in the Middle East as thousands have now died in the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel.
“We are devastated by the recent eruption of violence and loss of life in the Middle East,” the First Presidency wrote. “Violence of this nature is abhorrent to us and is not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is a gospel of peace. At such times, our hearts ache for all victims of this atrocity.”
The statement continued: “As servants of God, we affirm that He calls upon all of us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we pray for a peaceful resolution of all conflicts.”
Violence erupted in the region Saturday when the militant group Hamas launched a multi-pronged surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,200 people, ABC News reports. Among the dead were 27 Americans.
Israel retaliated with days of devastating airstrikes on Gaza, killing more than 1,500 Palestinians and leaving thousands of others displaced in the 140-square-mile impoverished territory which Hamas controls.
According to The New York Times, Israel’s military said Thursday it was preparing for “the next stage of the war.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC News that the U.S. government is exploring all options to bring home Americans who were among the dozens of people taken hostage by Hamas fighters.