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Israel-Hamas Conflict Has Gone Beyond War to ‘terrorism,’ Pope Francis Says

The pope said both Israeli and Palestinian communities are suffering and called for peace.

Pope Francis on Wednesday said the situation in the Middle East has moved beyond war to terrorism.

The pope’s statement came after he met with two separate delegations, one of Israelis who have relatives held hostage by Hamas, and one of Palestinians with relatives detained in Israeli prisons.

Speaking in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City earlier Wednesday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church said both communities “suffer a lot,” adding that in the Middle East, “we have gone beyond wars” and are at “terrorism,” according to Avvenire, an Italian newspaper affiliated with the Catholic Church.

The pontiff has also called for a peace prayer: “Let us pray for the Palestinian people, let us pray for the Israeli people, so that peace may come.” He strongly urged those present not to forget victims of conflicts in other parts of the world, “especially for the dear peoples of Ukraine, the tortured Ukraine.”

Pope Francis’ comments come on the heels of an agreement reached between the government of Israel and Hamas, in which 50 Israeli hostages will be released in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, according to media reports.

Earlier this month, the pope had reiterated his plea for an end to hostilities between Israel and Palestine and called for “much more” humanitarian aid for Gaza.

The militant branch of the Palestinian group Hamas launched a violent attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing at least 1,200 people and taking hundreds of hostages.

Since then, Israel has been carrying out retaliatory strikes on the besieged enclave, killing more than 11,000 Palestinians, according to both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Source: Politico