The Hamas movement criticized the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land, saying that the visit comes to improve the image of Isreal, the Al-Quds newspaper reported on Monday.

Regarding the sympathy from the Pope with the family of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said “this is a wrong step, as it ignores the suffering of 12,000 Palestinian detainees in Isreali prisons.”

The Hamas movement had said earlier that it considers the pope’s visit an attempt to “beautify the image of Isreal and weaken the chances of pursuing its leaders as war criminals, who committed massacres and holocausts against the Palestinian people.”

According to the statement from Hamas, the group was “surprised by the pope’s marketing of the idea of a two-state solution, because this means support to the establishment of a racist and extremist Jewish state that would pose a threat to the Palestinian people.”