BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) mourned on Monday the death of Syrian Catholic Bishop Hilarion Capucci, who passed away a day earlier in Rome at the age of 94.
Capucci was born in Aleppo in 1922, and was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause during his lifetime.
The bishop was arrested by Israel in the 1970s after being caught trying to smuggle weapons into the occupied West Bank for the Palestine Liberation Army, and subsequently sentenced to 12 years in prison, although he was released after four years due to an intervention by the Vatican.
In a statement, the PFLP said that "Archbishop Capucci dedicated his religious position to the struggle against the (Israeli) occupation."
The PFLP highlighted that even after being imprisoned by Israel, Capucci never yielded to Israeli stipulations, but rather "continued his struggle as he traveled around the world defending the Palestinian people, recruiting support for their cause, and exposing the Zionist entity's racist and fascist policies against them."
The PFLP called Capucci's death a huge loss for the Palestinian people and the Arab world.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also mourned Capucci, and describing him as a martyr for Jerusalem and a “brave fighter,” according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying Capucci "left behind a rich legacy of courage, struggle, and sacrifice for the sake of freedom of the homeland and of human beings. He was an example of deep Muslim-Christian brotherhood and national unity."
The statement added out that during Capucci’s imprisonment, the bishop was "a minaret for sacrifice, selflessness, redemption, and determination to support our people's righteous cause."