Pope Francis telephoned President Shimon Peres on Friday to ask him to deliver a message of peace to the people of Israel and the region as a whole.
The pope called on everyone to exercise restraint and to strive for peace in the face of the Gazan crisis.
He said he was particularly concerned that innocent people are suffering and being killed due to the influence of radical forces.
“We must move forward with determination toward peace,” he told Peres.
“This is a very painful moment,” he said, as he referred to the joint prayer in which Peres, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and spiritual leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths had joined him in a prayer for peace at the Vatican in the first week of June.
Peres told the pope that Israel knows that the firing of rockets was started by a group of fanatics and not by the people of Gaza.
He said that Israel’s military operation in Gaza is designed to bring an end to the firing of rockets and penetration into Israel from Gaza via underground tunnels.
Peres updated the pope on the way in which the tunnels had been discovered, and how this had prevented the murder of many people.
Peres voiced hope that the operation would be of short duration and thanked the pope for his concern and his prayers.
Francis said that he believes in the power of prayer, and in the hearts of those who are working for peace.
He said he was praying for quick solution – a political solution.
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