| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Pope says Israel-Hamas conflict has gone beyond war to ‘terrorism’

Pope Francis claimed that the conflict has evolved from a war to “terrorism” during his separate meetings on Wednesday with Palestinian and Israeli families who had relatives in Gaza and hostages held by Hamas.

Shortly after the talks at his home, Francis made spontaneous remarks to his general audience in St. Peter’s Square, stating that he had personally heard how “both sides are suffering” in the crisis.

“Wars have this effect. Here, though, we’ve moved past conflicts. This isn’t combat. It’s terrorism, he declared.

He asked for prayers so that both sides would “not go ahead with passions, which, in the end, kill everyone”.

A group of Palestinians in the crowd at the audience held up pictures of bodies wrapped in white cloth and a placard saying “the Nakba continues”.

Nakba is the Arab word for catastrophe and refers to the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in the 1948 war that surrounded Israel’s founding.

Both groups of relatives will hold separate news conferences later on Wednesday.

The meetings and the pope’s comments came hours after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza for at least four days to allow in aid and release at least 50 hostages captured by militants in exchange for at least 150 Palestinians jailed in Israel.

  • Reuters