Pope Francis issues an urgent appeal for a halt to violence in Israel and Palestine reiterating his belief that wars are always a defeat, and he invites all believers to join the Church in the Holy Land on Tuesday, 17 October for a Day of Prayer and Fasting.
Pope Francis has renewed his urgent appeal to Israelis and Palestinian fighters to stop perpetrating violence and spilling “innocent blood”.
Speaking during the Angelus on Sunday he said he is following the situation in the Holy Land “with much pain, and is thinking in particular of the children and the elderly.
“I renew my call for the release of the hostages and I strongly demand that children, the elderly, women and all civilians are not victims of the conflict,” he said.
He also renewed his call for the respect of Humanitarian Law, “especially in Gaza where there is an urgent need to guarantee humanitarian corridors and to rescue the entire population.”
“Brothers and sisters,” the Pope cried, “so many have already died: please do not spill any more innocent blood, neither in the Holy land, nor in Ukraine, nor anywhere else! Enough! Wars are always a defeat, always!”
Repeating his firm belief that wars are always a defeat, the Holy Father invited all believers to join the Church in the Holy Land next Tuesday, 17 October, for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.
“Prayer is the meek and holy force to oppose the diabolical force of hatred, terrorism and war,” he said.
A week on from the deadliest attack Israel has ever seen, it is widely expected that the country’s military will attack Gaza by land, air and sea.
After warning over a million Palestinians living in north Gaza to evacuate south on Friday, thousands of people have been fleeing by vehicle, on bicycle or on foot. The World Health Organization says another Israeli order to evacuate more than twenty hospitals in northern Gaza was tantamount to a death sentence for some of the sick and injured.
Hospitals in Gaza are already facing a public health catastrophe. Over the last week, more than 2,000 people have been killed in Israel’s bombing campaign of Gaza and thousands have sought medical treatment.
Meanwhile, local media reports foreign humanitarian aid is piling up in Egyptian Sinai, bordering the Gaza Strip, without reaching Palestinian territory. Shipments of Jordanian, Turkish and Emirati aid landed at El-Arich airport, the capital of North Sinai, as well as medical equipment sent by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In another development, the Pentagon has ordered a second warship to be sent to the Mediterranean. The American Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, announced the deployment of the “Dwight Eisenhower” to the region “to deter hostile actions against Israel” or any effort aimed at expanding the conflict. At the same time, the US Embassy in Israel has given details of how it will attempt to evacuate people by sea from Haifa to Cyprus on Monday. The U.S. government is assisting citizens and their immediate family members to depart by sea to Cyprus, the journey to Limassol port is expected to take ten to twelve hours.
Elsewhere, a man was killed in Shtula, in northern Israel by an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon, the Israeli army announced. “The army responded by opening fire and destroyed Hezbollah positions and the source of the fire,” Daniel Hagari, an army spokesman, told reporters. According to the Haaretz website, three other people were hurt.
This conflict erupted when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a lethal attack on Israel on 7 October, with gunmen entering communities near the Gaza Strip, killing 1,300 people, and taking dozens of civilians – including women and children – as hostages.