VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- At the height of a new wave of violence in the Holy Land, John Paul II called for an “immediate” cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians.
At the end of his weekly Angelus meeting with pilgrims, the Pope said he was “profoundly saddened” by the latest news from Jerusalem.
“Violence, death and reprisals cannot but push the civilian populations, whether Israeli or Palestinian, toward despair and hatred,” he said today from the window of his study, to the crowds below in St. Peter´s Square.
“May an immediate cease-fire, together with a renewed sense of humanity, in respect of international laws, silence the arms and make the voice of reason be heard!” the Pope pleaded.
John Paul II asked the faithful to join him in prayer for this intention.
Since Saturday afternoon, Palestinian attacks in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as a suicide attack in Jerusalem, have left at least 21 Israelis dead, including seven soldiers.
Palestinian attacks have intensified since Thursday, when the Israeli army began an extensive operation in the West Bank refugee camps of Balata and Jenin. That operation left 23 dead, including 21 Palestinians.
In addition, medical and Palestinian security sources report that two members of the Palestinian news services were killed today by the Israeli army, which carried out an incursion in the West Bank city of Kalkiliya. These put the death toll at 1,336 since the intifada began in September 2000. Of those, 1,009 were Palestinians.