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Israel to deport former Jerusalem Archbishop on board flotilla

June 1, 2010 2:59 P.M. (Updated: June 2, 2010 6:33 A.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – The Catholic Church in Jerusalem said Tuesday that former Jerusalem Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, 88, who was on board the Freedom Fleet, is being held by Israel at the Beersheba prison and is slated for deportation.

Church officials early expressed concerns over Capucci's safety with Sebastia Archbishop Atallah Hanna saying his whereabouts were unknown. "We have not received any information about archbishop Capucci, and he was not among the activists detained by Israel at Ashdod port," said Hanna Tuesday.

Hanna described the Israeli attack on the flotilla which saw at least 10 activists killed as "brutal and savage" and said Israel was responsible for Capucci's safety, applauding the participation of Sheikh Raed Salah on the fleet.

Capucci has served four years in Israeli jails and was exiled to the Vatican in 1978.

The Vatican expressed "pain" and "great concern" at the deaths of activists on a convoy bringing aid to Gaza on Monday, with Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi saying the Israeli attack was "a very painful thing, in particular for the useless loss of human lives."

The spokesman confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI would conduct an official tour of the Middle East between 4 and 6 June.
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