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Swiss churches mourn victims of Middle East violence

Switzerland's churches called for an end to violence between Israel and the Palestinians


Church bells across Switzerland were rung on Saturday as part of a commemoration of the victims of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Silent candle-lit vigils also took place.

The national ceremony was arranged by the human rights organisation Amnesty International together with Switzerland's Catholic and Protestant parishes. The organisers said they wanted in particular to celebrate the memory of those Palestinian children and teenagers killed, who they said were victims of disproportionate Israeli army force.

Over 300 people have died in the region since renewed violence broke out at the end of September. Most of those killed in the clashes have been Palestinians.

Amnesty's headquarters in London first suggested the symbolic commemoration, to be held at 1600 hours on 16 December. The idea was enthusiastically received by its Swiss section.

The organisation says it takes no side in the conflict, but condemns all human rights abuses. It has called for an end to what it calls the "culture of impunity" in the region, saying that peace and security are impossible without a respect for human rights.

swissinfo with agencies

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