The four-day humanitarian pause between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and the exchange of prisoners and hostages after 50 days of relentless fighting are a glimmer of light, says the Custos of the Holy Land.
Fr. Francesco Patton calls is an encouraging result because “it means that negotiations are possible”.
The truce, brokered by Qatar and Egypt, is set to end at midnight on 28 November, after four days of relative calm meant to facilitate the exchange of 50 Israeli hostages held in Gaza for 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
It is the first halt in the Gaza war since Hamas launched its vicious cross-border raid on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages. Three groups of hostages have been released so far under the agreement. On Sunday, 26 November, 17 hostages were freed, including 14 Israelis and 3 Thai nationals.
The suspension of the fighting has also allowed for desperately-needed humanitarian aid to enter the Strip and offer some respite to civilians trapped there. So far, the war has cost the lives of nearly 15,000 people in Gaza, 40 percent of whom are children, according to Palestinian authorities.
Speaking to Vatican News’ Amedeo Lomonaco, Fr. Patton expressed his hope that the truce may continue to hold, and that all the hostages held by Hamas may be released.
He underscored the important role played by the international community, especially of the countries that mediated the agreement.