CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2002 ( John Paul II called for an end to attacks and reprisals in the Holy Land and urged greater commitment to peace on the part of the international community.

During his address at the papal summer residence last Sunday prior to the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope asked: "When will it be understood that the coexistence of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples cannot be brought about by arms?"

"For it is neither attacks, nor walls that separate, nor even retaliation that will ever lead to a just solution of the continuing conflict," the Pontiff stressed.

"The Pope suffers with all those who weep because of bereavement and destruction; above all he is close to the numerous innocent victims who pay the price of this violence," John Paul II added. "He wishes to repeat to everyone, regardless of the ethnic group to which they belong, that there is no justification for those who kill defenseless civilians indiscriminately."

"From 1967 till today, unspeakable sufferings have followed one upon another in a frightening manner: the suffering of the Palestinians, driven out of their land and forced, in recent times, into a state of permanent siege, becoming as it were the object of a collective punishment; the suffering of the Israeli population, who live in the daily terror of being targets of anonymous assailants," the Holy Father continued.

"To this we must add the violation of a fundamental right, that of freedom of worship. In effect, because of a strict curfew, believers no longer have access to their places of worship on the day of weekly prayer," the Pope added.

"Faced with this humanitarian tragedy, which does not seem to show any signs of hope, no one can remain indifferent," he added. "That is why, once again, I appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian political leadership to set out anew on the path of sincere negotiation. I ask the international community to work with greater resolve in being present in the area, offering its mediation in order to create the conditions for a fruitful dialogue that will speed the process towards peace."