Palestinian prisoners hope pope will press their case


Bethlehem : March 6, 2009. Palestinian political prisoners called on Pope Benedict XVI to press for their release during his visit to Israel in May.

In a statement smuggled from Israel’s Negev (Naqab) desert prison camp and released to the public on Friday, the prisoners said, “We appeal Pope Benedict XVI to intervene to resolve our case and end our suffering.” The prisoners said they welcomed the visit, and also called on the Catholic clergy to raise this issue of Palestinian prisoners with "His Holiness." Benedict plans to visit Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel during a four day visit. It will be the first Papal trip to the Holy Land since John Paul II came in 2000. There are more than 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, many of them elderly and sick. Hundreds are charged in connection with attacks on Israelis. Last month indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a prisoner swap broke down. Israel had demanded the issue be included in truce talks and requested the release of Gilad Shalit in exchange for the opening of Gaza crossings.

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