Pope Francis at the end of a public address on Sunday issued an appeal for peace amidst the mounting conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“Please cease the attacks and weapons, and realize that terrorism and war only bring suffering and death,” he said.
The pontiff issued the statement following the recent attacks and airstrikes, causing numerous casualties on both sides.
The latest clashes between Hamas and the Israeli military have claimed the lives of more than 1,000 individuals, including 413 Palestinians.
Over the past 15 years, Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have led to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, including women, children, and the elderly.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 6,400 Palestinians and 308 Israelis died due to the conflict from 2008 to 2023.
Pope Francis reiterated, “War is always a defeat” and “every war is a defeat”. He expressed deep concern over the ongoing violence in the region, stating he was following the situation with “apprehension and sorrow”.
The pontiff extended condolences to the families of victims on both sides of the conflict and offered prayers for those experiencing “moments of terror and distress”.
He invited people worldwide to join him in praying for peace in Israel and Palestine.
Violence erupted unexpectedly on Saturday when Palestinian Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel, firing rockets and entering Israeli territory. Israel responded with airstrikes, with its Prime Minister declaring a state of war.
Reports suggest that over 400 Palestinians have lost their lives in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, with dozens taken captive. On the Israeli side, approximately 300 casualties have been reported.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also expressed concern in a statement released on Saturday.
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa lamented the “many casualties and tragedies” faced by Palestinians and Israeli families, warning that the violence could breed hatred and division.
The statement called upon the international community and religious leaders to work towards de-escalation, restore calm, and protect the fundamental rights of people in the region.
Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the “status quo” concerning the Holy Places, particularly in Jerusalem, the Patriarchate stressed the “urgent need to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in this land.”