Pope Francis during the Wednesday General Audience emphasized the futility of violence as a path to achieving lasting peace in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
While recognizing the right of those under attack to defend themselves, the pontiff voiced deep concern about the dire situation in Gaza, which has witnessed numerous innocent victims due to a “complete siege” imposed by Israel, including restrictions on access to electricity, food, water, and gas.
The United Nations reported that 338,000 people have been displaced in Gaza, as Israel’s devastating bombing raids continue.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres posted on social media that “life-saving supplies”, such as food, fuel, and water, “must be allowed into Gaza”.
Under the UN’s statutes, Israel’s “total siege” on Gaza is deemed a war crime.
The pontiff’s appeal called upon both parties to exercise restraint, emphasizing the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing war.
“Terrorism and extremism do not help to reach a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but fuel hatred, violence, and revenge, causing suffering to both sides,” he said.
Pope Francis issued a call for fraternity and dialogue. He said the Middle East does not need war but peace, “a peace built on justice, dialogue, and the courage of fraternity”.
The Pope’s unwavering serves as a critical reminder that violence, no matter the justifications, only begets more violence and suffering.
He underscored the need to prioritize dialogue and reconciliation as the path forward in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Pope Francis extended condolences and sympathy to the victims and their families, mourning the loss of life and injuries caused by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
“I pray for those families who have seen a day of celebration turned into a day of mourning and ask for the immediate release of the hostages,” he said.
The outbreak of violence saw a surprise attack by Hamas militants on the southern part of Israel on a day when Jews were celebrating Simchat Torah, also known as the “joy of the Torah.”
During this incursion into Israel, Hamas took dozens of hostages and issued a chilling threat to execute them if Israel targeted areas within the Gaza Strip.