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Pope Francis condemns killing of Palestinians, says Mideast needs justice, peace

Reuters , Wednesday 16 May 2018
Pope Francis addresses the crowd during a weekly general audience at St Peter's square on May 16, 2018 in Vatican. Pope said he was "very worried" about "spiral of violence" in Middle East.(AFP Photo)
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Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the killing of Palestinians near the Gaza-Israel border, saying the deaths would only lead to more violence, and appealed for dialogue to bring justice and peace to the Middle East.

"I express my great pain for the dead and wounded and I am close in prayer and affection to all those who are suffering," he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"I repeat that the use of violence never leads to peace. War begets war and violence begets violence."

Israeli occupation forces killed 60 Palestinians and wounded hundreds near the Gaza-Israel border on Monday during demonstrations against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, in the bloodiest day in the Israeli-besieged Gaza in years.

Israel has killed more than 100 Palestinians and injured thousands since Palestinians began organizing the Right of Return March in Gaza last March.

Francis, who visited Israel and Palestinian territories in 2014, asked both sides and the international community to redouble efforts "so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail".

Last December, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced the decision to move the embassy, Francis called for Jerusalem's "status quo" to be respected, saying new tension in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts.

Speaking earlier in the audience to a group of Polish World War Two veterans, he said: "We never learn."

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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