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Pope urges Gaza cease-fire

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As the Israeli war on Gaza entered its seventh day, Pope Francis has called for a cease-fire in the Middle East, praying for peace in the occupied Holy Land.

“I extend a heartfelt appeal to all of you to continue to pray earnestly for peace in the Holy Land, in light of the tragic events of recent days,” the Pope said after his July 13 weekly Angelus address, Catholic News Agency reported.

Speaking in Italian, the Pope made his Sunday prayer from the window of his apartment above St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope called for peace, adding that his meeting in June with the Palestinian and Israeli presidents was not a waste of time.

In June, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres committed themselves to the quest for peace during a visit to the Vatican.

It was the first time the Pope had hosted a prayer gathering of two leaders engaged in conflict.

“Some might think that such a meeting took place in vain,” he observed.

“But no, because prayer helps us not to allow ourselves to be overcome by evil, nor resign ourselves to violence and hatred taking over dialogue and reconciliation.

“I urge the parties concerned and all those who have political responsibility at local and international levels to spare a prayer and make some effort to put an end to all hostilities and to achieve the desired peace for the good of all,” he added.

Pope Francis then invited the thousands present in St Peter’s Square to “unite in prayer,” and led the masses in a moment of silent prayer for the Holy Land.

Israel has been launching relentless airstrikes against Gaza since Tuesday in which more than 172 have been killed and over 500 injured in the tiny coastal strip.

Israel has claimed that its new war on Gaza, under the title Operation Protect Edge, was a response to the rocket attacks being carried out by Hamas.

It added that its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire at its cities from the Gaza Strip.

There have been no Israeli casualties from the hundreds of rockets that have been fired by rebels in Gaza. ONISLAM

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