THE head of the Church of Scotland has called for an end to the blockade of Gaza and the commitment of the international community to peace-building measures.

Initial priority should be given to much-needed relief measures, the Church said.

The Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza has claimed nearly 1,900 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, and has left 67 Israelis dead, all but three of them soldiers.

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A 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas began at 8am local time yesterday.

The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) has announced it is sending £30,000 to provide emergency aid to thousands of people caught in the conflict. It is working with sister charity Caritas Jerusalem and others to provide medical supplies to four hospitals, food, blankets, fuel, soap, buckets and trauma counselling to the most vulnerable.

The Right Reverend John Chalmers, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, said: "In the face of the particular tragedy of Gaza, and the disturbing loss of so many civilian lives, the Church of Scotland actively engages with its local contacts in the region and seeks to support and amplify their efforts in seeking a just and lasting peace for all the people.

"The Church joins with others in welcoming any genuine ceasefire in Gaza."