Egypt Pope Tawadros Calls for Fast Dedicated to the 'Suffering in Gaza'
Published 2014-07-31 14:40:46| Amwal Al Ghad English
Egypt's Pope Tawadros II called on the country’s Coptic Christians to dedicate a 15-day fast to those "suffering in Gaza," Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website has reported. "How can humans do this to other humans," the pope wondered incredulously, with Gaza entering 24 days under a continuing Israeli offensive on its territory which has so far left over 1360 Palestinians dead. In a sermon on Wednesday, Tawadros asked Egyptian Coptic Christians to dedicate their fast to all those suffering in the Arab world -- particularly Gaza, Iraq and Syria. The 15-day fast -- to take place from 7 to 22 August -- precedes the Dormition of Theotokos, or Feast of the Virgin Mary. On Wednesday Egypt strongly condemned, for the second time in two days, the Israeli "excessive use of unjustified" violence towards innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza. While Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians’ only land crossing not under Israeli control, remains closed despite the violence, around 100 injured Palestinians have been allowed to cross into Egypt since the beginning of hostilities to seek medical treatment.
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Israel pressed ahead with its Gaza offensive saying it was days from achieving its core goal of destroying all Islamist guerrilla cross-border attack tunnels, but a soaring Palestinian civilian toll has triggered international alarm. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet on Wednesday approved continuing the assault launched on July 8 in response to a surge of rocket attacks by Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists. Israel also sent a delegation to Egypt, which has been trying, with Washington's blessing, to broker a ceasefire. A military source said some 16,000 reservists were being called up at short notice in the coming hours to relieve a similar number who would be stood down. Gaza officials say at least 1,361 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered enclave and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza clashes and more than 400 wounded. Three civilians have been killed in Palestinian shelling in Israel. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was incensed on Wednesday at the deaths of at least 15 Palestinians among thousands sheltering at a school whose U.N. administrator said appeared to have been hit by Israeli artillery.
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