Pope Benedict XVI has again appealed for an end to violence in Gaza. The pontiff called for peace and justice in the Holy Land and urged both sides involved in the conflict to enter into dialogue.
From his study window overlooking Saint Peter's Square, Pope Benedict addressed thousands gathered for the weekly Sunday blessing. He urged Israelis and Palestinians to put an immediate end to the tragic conflict in Gaza.
The pope said war and hatred are not the solution to problems. He said this is confirmed by recent history.
Pope Benedict said that the dramatic news reaching us from Gaza shows how the refusal to enter into dialogue leads to a situation of inexplicable suffering for the population.
The pope prayed that Jesus may inspire the authorities and both sides involved in the latest conflict to lay down their arms.
Pope Benedict has repeatedly called for an end to the fighting in recent days, including during a high-profile appeal at Christmas Day.
The Vatican has been exploring the possibility of Benedict making his first trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories since his election in 2005. The visit was being planned for May 2009 and the Vatican has said it is still possible, despite the latest violence in Gaza.
Two of Benedict's predecessors in modern times, John Paul II and Paul VI, also visited the Holy Land.