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Pope: End bloodshed in Jesus' homeland, restore truce

Dec. 29, 2008 11:03 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 29, 2008 11:03 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday condemned the "endless" bloodshed in the Holy Land and urged Israeli and Palestinian factions to end the violence immediately.

Over 300 Palestinians and at least two Israelis have been killed since Saturday.

Benedict told visitors in Vatican City's St. Peter's Square that he is devastated for "the dead, wounded, property damage, suffering and tears of the populations who are victims of this tragic succession of attacks and retaliation."

The pontiff condemned all attacks and renewed his Christmas Day appeal that negotiations replace "the perverse logic of clashes and violence."

Israeli fighter jets dropped bombs and missiles on Saturday, Sunday and Monday on possibly hundreds of targets throughout the Gaza Strip, as continuing attacks have left over 1,000 hurt, nearly 200 of them critically.

"The homeland of Jesus cannot continue to be witness to so much bloodshed, which repeats itself endlessly," Benedict said.

"I implore an end to that violence, which must be condemned in all its manifestations, and the restoration of the truce in the Gaza Strip," he added.

The pope also called for "humanity and wisdom in all those who wield responsibility in the situation" and called on the world "not to leave anything untried to help the Israelis and Palestinians exit from this dead end."

Pope Benedict is expected to visit the Holy Land in May. It will be his first trip to Israel and Palestine since Pope John Paul II, his predecessor, visited in 2000, leaving just before the 40-day Israeli siege of Bethlehem, which killed eight Palestinians.
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