“Please stop the attacks and the weapons,” Pope Francis pleaded on Sunday, “and understand that terrorism and war do not lead to any solution, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.”
“War is always a defeat! Every war is a defeat!” he insisted.
Speaking after the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Holy Father said he is following “with apprehension and sorrow,” the latest news from Israel, “where violence has erupted even more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.”
He expressed his sympathy to the families of victims, and said he is praying for them and for “all those who are experiencing hours of terror and anguish.” The Pope invited everyone to pray for peace in Israel and Palestine.
Violence in Israel and Palestine
Fresh violence erupted unexpectedly in the Holy Land on Saturday, when Palestinian Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel, firing hundreds of rockets and making armed incursions into Israel.
Israel immediately launched retaliatory air strikes, and the nation’s prime minister has said the country is at war.
Unconfirmed reports suggest more than 400 Palestinians have been killed in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip and dozens captured. Some 300 Israelis have been reported killed, and dozens kidnapped, according to some Israeli sources.
Latin Patriarchate calls for de-escalation
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem lamented, “The too many casualties and tragedies, which both Palestinians and Israeli families have to deal with, will create more hatred and division, and will destroy more and more any perspective of stability.”
The statement called on the international community and religious leaders “to make every effort in helping to de-escalate the situation, restore calm and work to guarantee the fundamental rights of people in the region.”
The need for a solution to the conflict
The Patriarchate insisted on the importance of maintaining the so-called “Status Quo” with regard to all the Holy Places in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem; and of the “urgent need to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in this land.”
The Patriarchate’s statement concluded with the prayer that God might “inspire world leaders in their intervention for the implementation of peace and concord so that Jerusalem may be a house of prayer for all peoples.”