Monday, May 21, 2007

Pope appeals for end to 'tragic violence' in Gaza

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday called for an end to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Palestinian factions. that has escalated in the last few days.
The Pope made the appeal after praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St Peter's Square ­ hours after Israel announced plans to intensify operations against Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Israel and militants within Gaza have been exchanging fire for the last week. Israel has carried out airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza for five days, leaving more than 30 many civilians dead and dozens injured. Palestinian militants have launched more than 100 rockets into Israel. So far there have been no Israeli casualties but considerable damage to property.
Fighting between the rival Hamas and Fatah movements in Gaza killed at least 50 people in the past week. A truce was called on Saturday.
The Holy Father said: "The fighting between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and the rocket attacks against the inhabitants of nearby Israeli cities, which have provoked military intervention, are bringing about a bloody deterioration of the situation and causing dismay.
"Once again, in the name of God, I ask that an end be brought to this tragic violence, while to the suffering Palestinian and Israeli populations I desire to express my solidarity and assurance of my prayerful remembrance.
"I appeal to the sense of responsibility of all the Palestinian authorities that, in dialogue and firmness, they take up again the difficult path of understanding, neutralizing the violent.
"I invite the Israeli government to moderation and exhort the international community to multiply efforts for the relaunching of negotiations.
"May the Lord bring forth and sustain makers of peace!"

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