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Jerusalem: Christians pray for peace in the Holy Land

 Dozens of Christians stood side by side, carrying candles in their hands, at the Church of St Stephen's at the invitation of the coalition of Christian institutions in Palestine.

Priests prayed in the seven foreign languages of the church: Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Abyssinian, Italian, English, French, German. They said: "We pray for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine."

Other prayers included: "No to hatred, yes to love, no to death and yes to life," and "As we pray for an end to all violence and suffering in order to achieve a just peace."

Patriarch Michel Sabbah said: "What happened and is happening in Gaza is wrong, a deadly holiday gift.

The Orthodox Christmas was subdued this year with Mass planned for last night and little else.

The Patriarch said yesterday: "In the skies above Gaza lightning falls on human rights. We have seen this is the past and what we see in the Strip, unfortunately, is repeated generation after generation. It is not an act of God. God created man in His own image and likeness, created love and reconciliation and justice, but what we see is the destruction of human beings in Gaza and everywhere, and the destruction of all of Palestine."

The Pastor of the Latin Church sent a message from the people of Jerusalem to those of Gaza. "It is time after 60 years to find the roads to freedom and to restore the land and end the occupation."

He referred in his message to the suffering of the people of Gaza since the start of the military operation, of the food shortages, poverty and malnutrition and the cold because the windows remain open for the protection of children from glass fragments.

"Every hour is not just a war crime but a crime against humanity."

He said: "Our people in Gaza are treated animals in a zoo. Get enough to eat but can not cry and no one can wipe the tears and no water, no electricity, fear, terror and siege."

He further urged the people to "lift their prayers to God at the top of every hour."

Source: Pax Christi