‘The number of victims is growing and the situation in Gaza is desperate,’ says pontiff
LONDON (AA) – Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed concern over the “desperate” situation in Gaza, calling for everything possible to be done to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.
Speaking at his weekly General Audience, the pontiff urged all parties to lay down their weapons, the official Vatican News reported.
“The number of victims is growing and the situation in Gaza is desperate … everything possible (should) be done to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.
Saying that war doesn’t solve anything, Francis said instead it only “sows death and destruction,” increases hatred, and multiplies revenge.
“War erases the future,” he added, urging people to take the side of peace.
His remarks came after Tuesday’s deadly strike on a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds of people.
More than 500 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on Tuesday, according to Palestinian officials in the besieged enclave. Israel, however, has denied responsibility for the air raid.
The conflict began on Oct. 7 when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a multi-pronged surprise attack that included a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel by land, sea, and air. It said the incursion was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and growing violence by Israeli settlers.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to ease the “epic human suffering.”
At least 3,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, while the figure stands at more than 1,400 people in Israel.