Patriarch says don't punish all Palestinians because of Hamas

Wounded Israeli soldiers retreat

The Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem said it is impossible for Israeli military to target Hamas missiles without hitting civilians, adding that 'we cannot punish all the population because you do not agree with Hamas,' reports CNS.

'We have hundreds and hundreds of killed people, innocent people, 80 percent innocent,' he said in an interview in Washington on Wednesday. 'In Gaza, when (Israelis) strike, there is no shelter,' he said. 

'The Israeli people are happy to have bomb shelters, and they can go escape when they want,' he said, referring to the rockets Hamas has been firing into Israel. 'Meanwhile, in Gaza, we have nothing. No shelters, and they (people) are in the street.'

Patriarch Twal emphasised that the Church 'absolutely condemns' the firing of Hamas rockets. 'But remember these rockets: They make noise, they make fear, they never killed one person,' he said.

The Patriarch was visiting the United States July 17 when Israel began its ground campaign into Gaza in response to a string of escalating events that began with the kidnappings and deaths of Israeli and Palestinian teens.

In Washington, Patriarch Twal met with members of the US Committee on International Religious Freedom, and he told CNS he expected to meet with US government security officials.

Patriarch Twal, whose patriarchate, similar to an archdiocese, includes Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus, said he did not understand why authorities do not want to dialogue. Instead of the military option, it is 'better to find another way to look for peace,' he said.

Read full article: Jerusalem patriarch: Don't punish all Gaza Palestinians because of Hamas (Catholic News Service)

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The Telegraph writes that according to United Nations figures, 697 Palestinians had been killed as of Wednesday afternoon. Of those, at least 518 were civilians, of which 170 were children and 86 women. Palestinian officials said another 31 people were killed overnight and on Thursday morning, including an 18-month-old baby and six members of the same family. On the Israeli side, 32 soldiers have been killed, as well as the three civilians.  

Read article: Israel-Gaza conflict: Netanyahu compares Hamas rocket attacks to the Blitz (The Telegraph)

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