“I encourage the release of hostages, and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”
With these words, Pope Francis made his latest appeal for the Holy Land, which came at the Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square as he addressed Italian-speaking pilgrims.
“I always think of the grave situation in Palestine and Israel,” the Pope said, as he appealed for the release of Israeli hostages in the hands of Hamas and to facilitate entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
Join the prayer for peace
The Pope said he continues to pray “for those who suffer and to hope for paths of peace, in the Middle East, in the tormented Ukraine and in other regions wounded by war.”
The Holy Father also invited the faithful to join him in the upcoming Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Penance for Peace in our world.
“I remind everyone that the day after tomorrow, Friday, 27 October, we will live a day of fasting, prayer and penance. At 6 p.m., in St. Peter’s, we will gather to pray to implore peace in the world.
The escalation of war
World leaders meanwhile, have voiced their intent to pursue efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading, nearly three weeks after Hamas militants attacked southern Israeli communities and killed over 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
In retaliatory attacks by Israel targeting Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, over 5,700 Palestinian civilians have been killed including some 2,300 minors.
Countries including the United States, Canada, Russia, and several Arab states are pushing for either a pause or ceasefire in fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to besieged Palestinian civilians.
Late on Tuesday, eight trucks with water, food and medicine entered the enclave from Egypt.
On Wednesday, Israel threatened to stop new fuel supplies reaching Gaza, accusing Hamas of stockpiling hundreds of thousands of litres as hospitals in Gaza are reportedly stopping all but emergency services as fuel runs out.
The UN – the biggest aid provider in Gaza – says its work will stop on Wednesday night if it doesn’t get fresh fuel supplies.
During his Angelus on Sunday, the Pope said he was “very concerned” and “grieved” by the crisis, noting he is praying for and is close to all affected.
Decrying “the serious humanitarian situation in Gaza,” he also expressed his sadness for the bombings on the Anglican hospital and the Greek Orthodox parish that were hit in recent days.
“I renew my appeal for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive and for hostages to be freed,” he said. “War, any war that there is in the world – I also think of martyred Ukraine is a defeat. War always is a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!”
By Deborah Castellano Lubov | vaticannews