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Pope sends monetary aid to Gazans

Leader of the Catholic world Pope Benedict XVI has sent an unspecified amount of monetary aid to the Gazan victims of the Israeli war.

According to a Vatican statement the funds dispatched by the Vatican's office for charitable initiative aim "to help relief efforts being carried out by the tiny Catholic presence in the Gaza Strip". "The material aid was sent to Gaza's small Catholic community, which serves the most vulnerable people in Jesus' birth land, today tragically hit by death, suffering and material damage," the statement read.

Pope Benedict XVI earlier condemned the Israeli raids against Gazan civilians, saying, "Violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned." He lamented "a renewed outbreak of violence provoking immense damage and suffering for the civilian population." Israel's 22-day war on Gaza has claimed the lives of at least 1,215 Palestinians and resulted in the wounding of more than 6,000 others.

Relations between Israel and the Vatican turned sour shortly after a senior representative of the pontiff condemned Israel for turning Gaza into "a big concentration camp". "Defenseless populations are always the ones who pay. Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp," said president of Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace Cardinal Renato Martino.

The comments drew sharp criticism from Tel Aviv with Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor saying that it "is a shocking and disappointing phenomenon" to see the vocabulary of Hamas propaganda, used by a member of the College of Cardinals.

... Payvand News - 01/17/09 ... --

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