Pope Francis joined by Cardinal Nichols in condemning Israeli killings in Gaza

Pope Francis condemned Israel's killing of Palestinian protestors on Wednesday, warning the violence would only lead to more violence.

He was joined by the UK's most senior Catholic Cardinal Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, and other church figures who said they were 'horrified' Israeli troops were using live rounds against unarmed protestors in Gaza.

ReutersPope Francis made the comments at his regular Wednesday address at St Peter's Square, in the Vatican.

An eight-month-old baby was among the 60 Palestinians killed near the Gaza-Israel border on Monday during demonstrations against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. As well as those killed around 2,700 people were injured on what was the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 war.

'I express my great pain for the dead and wounded and I am close in prayer and affection to all those who are suffering,' he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

'I repeat that the use of violence never leads to peace. War begets war and violence begets violence.'

Francis, who visited Israel and Palestinian territories in 2014, asked both sides and the international community to redouble efforts 'so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail'.

Last December, when US President Donald Trump announced the decision to move the embassy, Francis called for Jerusalem's 'status quo' to be respected, saying new tension in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts.

Speaking earlier in the audience to a group of Polish World War Two veterans, he said: 'We never learn.'

Cardinal Nichols, the head of Catholics in England and Wales, added his own prayers for the region, saying he had spoken with Fr Mario da Silva, the Catholic parish priest in Gaza, to offer support.

'He told me that life is so hard and everyone is desperate with shortages of water and other basic necessities. He said that knowing Catholics in England & Wales and across the world remembered the people of Gaza and were praying for them was a great encouragement,' Nichols said a statement.

'They are living through traumatic times of remembrance and protest at the dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation. This is a people who are both extremely vulnerable and deprived. Their fate is central to peace and peace can never be built on neglect.'

ReutersA Palestinian demonstrator uses a sling to hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City, May 14, 2018.

It comes after the Anglican bishop of Southwark Christopher Chessun, who regularly travels to Gaza, said he is 'horrified' at the use of live fire by Israeli forces which led to 60 deaths on the Strip on Monday. He condemned Israel's actions 'unequivocally'.

He called for the easing of travel restrictions and for medical supplies to be allowed into Gaza.

In a statement to Christian Today he said: 'The Roman Catholic Bishop of Clifton [Declan Lang] and I were in Gaza in January and saw for ourselves the withered economy and the confines under which the population must live as well as the heroic service provided to the population at large by the small Christian community there. Thus it grieves us greatly that violence has erupted on such a scale and that viciousness has been explored on what seems like a border marking mutual incomprehension. We believe the Palestinians are entitled to peaceful protest and are horrified at the use of live fire.'

In a seperate joint statement the two bishops said: 'The terrible loss of life in Gaza caused by the Israeli army's use of live fire against civilians is to be condemned unequivocally.'

'These protests take place against the drastically deteriorating humanitarian situation which leaves little hope and continues to undermine a peaceful resolution. Hundreds of families across Gaza are now mourning their loved ones, dead and wounded.

'Israel has a right to defend itself but also has the moral and legal responsibility not to use disproportionate force and not to prevent the injured from receiving medical treatment.

'All violence is destructive to peace efforts and our cry is for a peaceful two state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital.

'We pray for all those who suffer from this conflict and for the peace of Jerusalem.'

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, added his support and wrote on Twitter: 'Grieving the tragic loss of life in #Gaza and praying for the peacemakers. The Anglican Church is committed to serve the people of Gaza through the extraordinary work of the hospitals I was able to visit there last year.'

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