In Easter address, Pope says ‘defenseless’ being killed in Israel-Gaza crisis

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By Middle East Affairs

Two days after 15 Palestinians were killed on the Israeli-Gaza border, Pope Francis in his Easter address called for peace in the holy land, Reuters reports.

During the annual address from St. Peter’s Basilica after Easter mass, which draws tens of thousands of people, the pope said the current fighting “does not spare the defenseless.”

Reuters said he also called for an end to the “carnage” in Syria, saying the fighting should subside so that humanitarian aid may enter, as well as for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The news agency speculated that Francis was referring directly to the recent violence in Gaza on Friday that left 15 Palestinians dead, saying there should be “reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.”

After protests at the Gaza-Israel border turned especially violent recently, Israel’s defense minister refused calls for an inquiry into the cases of Israeli military killing Palestinians during demonstrations. Because of this, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, among others, are calling for an independent investigation.

Francis also referenced the conflict in Venezuela, calling for international assistance, Reuters said, “so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland” because of the economic and political crisis.

He hoped North and South Korea could settle their disputes soon when they hold their first summit in more than a decade, and above all he called for world peace, “beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”

“This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course … ” he said.

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