Christmas Message Urges End to Gaza Blockade

JERUSALEM (AP) - In his Christmas message, the Holy Land's top
Roman Catholic cleric has criticized Israel's blockade of the Gaza

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal also urged his fellow Palestinians to heal their political rift.

Just as Bethlehem waited for the birth of Jesus, Twal says, Palestinian Christians are "awaiting a manifestation of the Savior's grace that will put an end to the occupation."

He calls for an end to the "fears, hardships and internal divisions that beset this land."

Israel has kept Gaza's borders nearly sealed since early November in response to frequent rocket fire by Gaza militants.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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