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POPE BENEDICT XVI DENOUNCES VIOLENCE IN GAZA

ROME (WAFA)- Pope Benedict XVI denounced, Sunday, violence in the Palestinian Territory and urged everyone involved in the 'tragic situation in the Middle East' to strive for humanity and wisdom. 'I implore an end to the violence which must be denounced in all its forms and a restoration of the truce on the Gaza Strip,' he said in his weekly Angelus prayer.
  • 'The terrestrial homeland of Jesus cannot continue to be the witness of such bloodshed which is repeated ad infinitum,' he told thousands of pilgrims.The Pope also expressed his deep sadness for the deaths and injuries, by the material damage, the suffering and the tears of the population, victims of this series of tragic attacks.
  • Israel has launched massive air strikes in the Strip that have killed at least 285 people and injured over 900, since Saturday. International pressure is mounting on Israel and the Palestinians to halt violence in Gaza, with the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and other countries all calling for an immediate restoration of calm.
  • And elsewhere in the Arab world there were massive public demonstrations to condemn Israel's heavy handedness. The Syrian government, meanwhile, announced the suspension of its indirect peace talks with Israel because the attacks.
  • In Lebanon, police fired tear gas to stop dozens of demonstrators from reaching the Egyptian Embassy. Some in the crowd hurled stones at the embassy compound.
  • Egypt, which has served as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between Hamas and its rival Fatah, has been criticised for joining Israel in closing its borders with Gaza.
  • In Amman, Jordan, about 5,000 lawyers marched toward parliament to demand the Israeli ambassador's expulsion and the closure of the embassy. "No for peace, yes to the rifle," they chanted.
  • The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned on Sunday the Israeli Charge D'affaires and expressed its strong condemnation for the Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip.
  • The prime minister of Turkey, one of the few Muslim countries to have relations with Israel, called its air assault a "crime against humanity."
  • France also called for the truce to be renewed and rallied European nations to use "all their weight" to stop the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
  • A protest outside the Israeli Embassy in London descended into chaos as demonstrators clashed with police. Dozens of campaigners were handcuffed and dragged away by officers as events appear to boil out of control in High Street Kensington.
  • In the statement, The Congress of South African Trade Union spokesperson, Patrick Craven said "Cosatu reiterates its call for the government of South Africa to break diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it," .
  • In New York the UN General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto late Saturday called on the UN to condemn the Israeli actions in Gaza and provide the civilians there with protection, noting that if it fails to do so, it should be accused of '"complicity by omission."
  • Around 300 left-wing activists called unity of the citizens of Israel gathered on the Defense Ministry lawn to protest the offensive against Gaza. They called Israel's "genocide and war crimes".
  • The spontaneous eruption of protests across the West Bank reminded many Palestinians of the First Intifada in the late 1980s and the Second Intifada that ran for five years from 2000 when the Palestinian public rose in support of armed militants.
  • Third Intifada was what Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader who is based in Damascus, demanded although it was still to early to say if Israel's operation Cast Lead will be a sufficiently strong catalyst.
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