Holy See Calls for End to Gaza Blockade


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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2010 ( As the forced isolation of the Gaza Strip again drew international attention last week -- due to an Israeli attack May 31 on ships carrying in aid -- the Holy See joined its voice to that of those calling for an end to the blockade.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, addressed a session of the Human Rights Council to call for an impartial and transparent investigation of what happened a week ago. The May 31 attack resulted in at least nine deaths.

"I intervened to follow the line expressed by the Holy Father, stating that violence does not give a constructive result," Archbishop Tomasi told Vatican Radio. "It's true, the violence of this attack must be condemned, above all because it took place in international waters and gives the impression that humanitarian rules and international law don't count. On the contrary, it is necessary that these rules be respected in favor of good relations with states."

The Holy See representative cautioned that the long-range consequences of actions such at these are not foreseeable, and noted how everyone's sympathy is with the families of the victims.

"At the same time it must be said and recognized that the state of Israel has the right to live and to defend itself; however, through dialogue, security can be attained based on respect for international law," the archbishop affirmed. "It is evident, after this incident, that the policy adopted on the isolation of the Gaza Strip cannot work, as above all it is necessary to give a positive answer to the essential rights of food, water, medicines and education for the people of Gaza."

Archbishop Tomasi classified the incident as both a cause and consequence of the ongoing "political and military instability in the Middle East."

"Hence," he urged, "we must encourage all in the international community and in the countries directly interested in working for a long-term solution, which cannot be any other at this time than that of a Palestinian state and a secure Israeli state, so that between the two, the rules of independence will be able to be respected and the door of collaboration opened."