Violence in Northern Gaza kills four |

Violence in Northern Gaza kills four

Violence in northern Gaza kills four

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Soldiers shot and killed a 10-year-old Palestinian girl and three other Palestinians died in missile strikes Friday during Israel’s massive offensive into the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses and hospital officials said.

The deaths brought to 89 the number of Palestinians killed since Israel began the offensive Sept. 29 to stop Palestinian militants from launching homemade rockets into Israel. Almost half of the dead were civilians and 18 were age 16 or under.

The latest casualty came late Friday as an Israeli helicopter fired a missile at militants planting an explosive device in the Jebaliya refugee camp, a focal point of the offensive, the army said.

Witnesses said the blast went off near a crowd of people gathered in the street, killing one man and severely wounding another. The men were dressed in civilian clothes and were not armed, medics said.

A helicopter fired another missile hours later in the village of Beit Lahiya, blowing up a mine but causing no injuries, witnesses said. The strike came as about 15 Israeli tanks, backed by machine gun fire, moved toward the village, apparently attempting to enter it for the first time during the offensive.

Earlier, 10-year-old Samah Samir Nassar was shot in the stomach and the left leg as she stood on the street in front of her home. She was taken to a clinic, where she was pronounced dead, medical officials said.

Pope: Show your faith in public

VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II exhorted Christians on Friday to display signs of their faith more forcefully, contending the practice neither infringes on separation of church and state nor breeds intolerance.

His comments appeared to be a clear reference to raging debates over laws such as France’s recent ban on wearing Islamic headscarves, Jewish skull caps or large Christian crosses in schools.

In Italy, a Muslim activist’s efforts last year to remove crucifixes from public school classrooms stirred widespread resentment in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country.

In a 31-page letter focused on the central role of Holy Communion in the life of Catholics, the pope kept up his campaign to invigorate the faith of followers.

“May there be more commitment, on the part of Christians, to give witness with more force to the presence of God in the world,” John Paul wrote. “Let’s not be afraid to speak of God and to carry on high the signs of faith.”

“Those who contend that public reference to faith can infringe the rightful autonomy of the state and civil institutions or that it can even encourage attitudes of intolerance are wrong,” he said.

John Paul’s letter marked the start this month of the Church’s Year of the Eucharist. Catholics believe that Christ is present in flesh and blood in Communion.

– Associated Press


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