Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City Nov. 20. As talks heated up regarding a possible cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza has been pressing for an end to the blockade as a condition for halting rocket attacks on Israel. CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters

Pope condemns escalating Gaza conflict, calls for truce, talks

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • November 21, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI condemned escalating hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, saying hatred and violence are never an appropriate solution to problems.

He also called for greater efforts to promote a truce and peace negotiations.

"I am following with great concern the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," the Pope said at the end of his general audience Nov. 21.

"Hatred and violence are not the solution to problems," he said to applause from those gathered in the Paul VI hall.

"I encourage the initiatives and efforts of those who are seeking to establish a ceasefire and to promote negotiations."

He also called on leaders on both sides of the conflict to make "courageous decisions in favour of peace and put an end to a conflict that has negative repercussions throughout the entire Middle East region, which is already troubled by too many conflicts and is in need of peace and reconciliation."

The Pope expressed his closeness to victims and all those suffering because of the violence.

His appeal came as both sides in the conflict launched fresh attacks. Just hours before the Pope spoke, a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding at least 10 people. That attack followed a week-long Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip aimed at stopping rocket strikes by Palestinian militants.

More than 130 Palestinians and at least five Israelis have been killed since Israel launched its offensive.

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