Pope Francis decries 'spiral of violence' in Middle East

Taiwanese bishops with Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 15

POPE FRANCIS " I am very anxious and hurt by the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and the Middle East and for the spiral of violence that is increasingly moving away from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations.

On the other side of the fence, Israeli troops have fired tear gas and live ammunition, spurring the deadliest moment on the border since 2014.

Since the Gaza rallies began on March 30, more than 100 Palestinian demonstrators have been martyred by cross-border Israeli army gunfire.

Reacting, Pope Francis told thousands at St. Peter's Square that violence would only lead to more violence.

Calling for "dialogue, justice and peace, ' Francis says violence 'has never led to peace".

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Francis, who visited Israel and Palestinian territories in 2014, asked both sides and the global community to redouble efforts "so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail".

"I Express my great sorrow at the deaths and injuries of people, I bow in prayer and compassion for all the victims", said the Pontiff. "War calls for war, violence calls for violence".

Francis has on several occasions expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, indirectly criticizing US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital. He condemned Israel's actions "unequivocally".

He said: "When I read this, I think about myself, because I'm a bishop and I'll have to take my leave".

In a seperate joint statement the two bishops said: 'The awful loss of life in Gaza caused by the Israeli army's use of live fire against civilians is to be condemned unequivocally'. Hundreds of families across Gaza are now mourning their loved ones, dead and wounded. The Anglican Church is committed to serve the people of Gaza through the extraordinary work of the hospitals I was able to visit there previous year'.

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