Pope Francis on Wednesday called for an extension of the truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza to ensure the release of all hostages and facilitate much-needed humanitarian aid.
“They don’t have water; they don’t have bread; ordinary people are suffering,” he said.
Pope Francis also drew attention to the ongoing struggles of the Ukrainian people, expressing solidarity with those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
“War is always a defeat,” the Pope reiterated, noting the widespread losses incurred by all parties involved in conflicts.
He stressed that the only beneficiaries of war are those who manufacture weapons, profiting from the suffering and deaths of others.
The truce between Hamas and Israel, initially set for a specific period, was extended for an additional 48 hours on Monday.
The current truce is set to end at midnight on Wednesday, with hopes for a further extension. Both sides are expected to release more hostages and prisoners as part of the ongoing negotiations.
The conditions in Gaza remain dire, with 2.3 million Palestinians bearing the brunt of weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground onslaught.
The conflict escalated after Hamas fighters crossed the border on October 7, resulting in casualties on both sides and the taking of hostages.
In the early hours of Thursday, thirty Palestinian women and children were released from Israeli prisons.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv, marking his third visit to the region since October 7. It is anticipated that Blinken will extend his visit to include a stop in the occupied West Bank.
Since October 7, over 15,000 Palestinians have lost their lives in Gaza, while the official death toll in Israel stands at 1,200.