More than two dozen Christian and Jewish religious leaders in the UK have sent a letter of support to a joint Jewish-Arab school network in Israel because of the “challenging time” in Gaza and Jerusalem.

Clergy came together through the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) to send the letter to Hand to Hand Schools, with vicars and rabbis saying how “inspirational” the schools were.

Set up in 1997, there are Hand in Hand schools in Jerusalem, the Galilee, in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Wadi Ara, Haifa and Kfar Saba, teaching thousands of Arab and Jewish children on a model based on inclusion, equality and a bilingual curriculum.

“We are writing to assure you that our thoughts are with you at this period of particular tension and escalating violence in the region,” the signatories say.

“We are aware that current events in Jerusalem and Gaza must be particularly challenging for the children, parents, and teachers in the Hand in Hand schools and we wanted you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.”

CCJ delegations routinely visit Hand in Hand schools on their trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories, praising the model as “a powerful example of a shared society in action”.

This week they wrote: “On our most recent visit to Hand in Hand, Jerusalem, we saw children’s artwork on the walls outside classrooms which read, in both Hebrew and Arabic: ‘Dialogue is a way of life’. How true! Only when communities come together, listen to each other’s narratives, and recognise each other’s mutual dependence for a secure future, can true peace be possible.”

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