Pope Francis Seems to Show Support for Palestinians

By Edgar Jiménez from Porto, Portugal (Papa rock star) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

17 dead, Thousands injured at the Israeli-Gaza border

Pope Francis asked for “reconciliation for Holy Land” during his Easter Sunday speech. His words referenced the Israeli-Gaza border violence which led to the deaths of 17 Palestinians. More than 1,400 were injured during the fracas. The pontiff spoke to the St. Peter’s Basilica crowd in Rome. He mentioned that the conflict did not even spare who cannot defend themselves. The comments came after thousands of Palestinians marched to Israel’s borders. They wanted to cross the border into Israel and reoccupy the land which they claim was theirs. Israel occupied the territory about 70 years back.

The pope appealed seemingly for Palestinians in the “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) speech. This speech is traditionally given by successive pontiffs from the Basilica’s central balcony to the assembled audience eagerly standing below. Tens of thousands of people waited in the flower covered area where he had celebrated Mass earlier. Other than Israel-Palestine, he also mentioned the Syria “carnage” and asked the relevant authorities to permit humanitarian aid to come into affected areas. The pontiff mentioned Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan as well.

The Defense Minister of Israel, Avigdor Liberman, has refused calls for investigation into the recent killings. Almost all the deaths were by the Israeli military during the time the Palestinian demonstration went from a simple march to violence at the border between Israel and Gaza. Israel claimed the violence was orchestrated by Hamas. David Keyes, the Israeli Prime Minister spokesman said Israeli forces were forced to retaliate as Hamas configured the event in such a way that thousands would “storm into Israel” and overrun the Jewish state. Keyes told CNN that calling it a protest is not accurate. Adding that “Bombs were placed, rockets were shot, guns were shot at Israelis. Israel did what any country around the world would have done. It defended its citizens.”

Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, said “the large crowds reflect the determination and will of the Palestinian people to extract the right of return and break the siege, no one can remove this right.”

Founder of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa Barghouti told the media the protests were peaceful and the attendees did not use guns. The demonstrators were trying to express what they want to say via peaceful means.

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