Pope calls for Israel, Palestinians to halt "spiral of death"

Palestinians inspect a damaged house in Turmus Ayya in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

(Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday called on Israel and the Palestinians to engage in dialogue in pursuit of peace, deploring the recent violence in the region.

Speaking after the Angelus prayer in Rome, the Pope said he had been greatly saddened by news of the Palestinians killed during Israeli counter-terrorism operations, as well as by the deaths of Israeli Jews in a synagogue shooting attack on Friday.

"It is with great pain that I hear of the news coming from the Holy Land... The spiral of death which is growing every day does nothing but kill the little trust that there is between these two peoples," he said.

"I appeal to the two governments and the international community, and I ask them to find immediately, without wasting any time, other paths which include dialogue and the sincere search for peace," he added.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday pledged a "strong, swift and precise" response to the synagogue attack on the outskirts of Jerusalem, as its military sent more troops into the occupied West Bank.

The Jerusalem attack followed an Israeli raid on Thursday in the West Bank city of Jenin that killed nine Palestinians, including seven gunmen, and cross-border fire on Friday between Israel and Gaza.

At least 30 Palestinians - militants and civilians - have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the month.

(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Toby Chopra)