Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Pope Francis in a phone call that the international community should impose sanctions on Israel for its actions against the Palestinians, and he urged the pontiff to keep speaking out on the conflict, Erdogan's office said on Monday.
About 200 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli bombardments and 10 people killed in Israel by militant rockets in the past week of fighting. Turkey has condemned the violence and accused Israel of carrying out "ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing."
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Pope Francis on Sunday said mounting casualties from the conflict were unacceptable.The Turkish presidency said Erdogan told Pope Francis that Israel was threatening regional security and that the international community should "teach Israel the deterrent lesson it deserves."
Erdogan underlined that Palestinians would continue "to be subjected to massacres as long as the international community did not punish Israel - which is committing humanitarian crimes - with sanctions," it said in a statement.
He also "emphasized that the continued messages from Pope Francis carried great importance in mobilizing the Christian world and international community," it said.
Pope Francis has denounced the “unacceptable” spiral of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, saying the deaths in particular of children was a “sign that they don’t want to build the future but want to destroy it.”
Francis prayed for peace, calm and international help to open a path of dialogue during his Sunday blessing, delivered from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
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The pope said: “I ask myself: this hatred and vendetta, what will it bring? Do we truly think that we can build peace by destroying the other?”
In unusually pointed comments, Francis added: “In the name of God, who created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity and are called to live as brothers, I appeal for calm” and an end to the violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.