World Bulletin/News Desk
A senior official in the Gaza Strip government has called on Pope Francis to visit the besieged enclave before concluding his current Middle East tour.
"We invite the Pope to visit Gaza so he could see for himself the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip under the unjust siege," Bassem Naeem, the foreign relations advisor to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said in a statement on Sunday.
The Gaza Strip, home to over 1.8 million Palestinians, has groaned under an Israeli blockade imposed since 2006, depriving the coastal enclave's residents of their most basic needs.
A massive Egyptian crackdown on cross-border tunnels, Gaza's main supply line for commodities smuggled from Egypt, has made life more difficult for the people of Gaza.
Currently on his first Middle East visit since his anointment in 2013, Pope Francis visited Jordan on Saturday.
He flew to the central West Bank city of Bethlehem earlier on Sunday morning.
The pontiff has already met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and presided over a mass in the Church of Nativity.
Pope Francis arrives in Israel
Pope Francis arrived on Sunday afternoon at Ben Gurion International Airport at the start of a visit to Israel where he is expected to meet with a host of government officials.
Israeli channels broadcast the landing of the helicopter that flew Pope Francis from Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli and Vatican flags fluttered in the air at the airport, while a red carpet was laid down for the Pope's reception.
"The Jordanian helicopter that is flying the Pope to Israel has landed at Ben Gurion airport," Ofir Gendleman, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, wrote on his Twitter account.
"Welcoming ceremony is about to start," he added.
Israel's police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said last week that his country would deploy 8,000 policemen during the pope's visit.
He will visit Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) on Monday.
Last Mod: 25 Mayıs 2014, 17:52