Holy See Decries Violence Aboard Gaza Aid Flotilla

Gaza Pastor Expresses Fear of Continuing Conflict

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is always against violence, says a Vatican spokesman, while lamenting the loss of life after international activists tried to break an Israeli blockade to reach Gaza.

On Monday, six ships with some 700 passengers, known as the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” attempted to break through an Israeli naval blockade in order to deliver supplies to Gaza.

Although the details are still being confirmed, the confrontation broke out in violence aboard one of the ships. Media sources are reporting that between ten and 20 lives were lost, and up to 70 others from both sides were injured.
 
“It is a very painful event, in particular for the futile loss of human lives,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office.
 
“The Vatican is following the situation with great attention and concern,” he said.

The priest continued, “As is known, the Holy See is always against the use of violence, wherever it comes from, as it makes ever more difficult the search for peaceful solutions, which are the only far-reaching ones.”
 
According to Father Lombardi, Benedict XVI, who will visit the Middle East when he travels to the island of Cyprus, on Friday, “will not cease to propose with constancy his message of peace.”

Peace
 
For his part, the parish priest of Gaza, Father Jorge Hernandez, said in statements on Vatican Radio that “evidently it was a crime that could have been avoided.”

“It was not necessary to go so far, as there were means to act in a peaceful manner,” he said.
 
The priest explained: “This causes many problems. The reaction of the Palestinian people here, in Gaza, is anger.

“This is the atmosphere one breathes in Gaza: an atmosphere of vengeance for what has happened.”
 
He expressed the fear that this attack might spark violence in Gaza, which will in turn fuel a reaction from Israel.
 
“We already know it,” he said, “violence calls to violence. I think that this will evidently bring consequences.”
 
For Father Hernandez, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is grave. He reported: “The lack of products makes prices rise sky high.

“Medicine and other basic goods are very expensive. I would also like to say that the situation worsens day by day.”
 
The priest’s message from his small church in Gaza is: “Peace is not attained with violence. This is not the appropriate way!”

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