Pope renews appeal for immediate Gaza ceasefire

“No to weapons, yes to peace”, Pope Francis says, renewing his appeal for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and the release of all hostages there.

By Joseph Tulloch

Speaking at the end of his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis made a new appeal for an end to the war in Gaza.

“I continue to follow the conflict in Israel and Palestine with much worry and pain,” he said. “I renew my call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire: there is so much suffering there.”

“I encourage all parties involved to resume negotiations,” the Pope added, “and call on everyone to make an urgent commitment to get humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.”

He stressed that the population of Gaza are “on their last legs, and really need it.”

Pope Francis also renewed his appeal for the immediate release of all Israeli hostages, saying “Let all hostages, who had seen hope in the truce a few days ago, be freed immediately, so that this great suffering for Israelis and Palestinians might come to an end.”

“Please”, he concluded, “no to weapons, yes to peace.”

Gaza on the cusp of ‘total breakdown’

Israel is continuing its barrage of Gaza, with the focus now on Khan Younis in the south. There has also been fighting in Rafah near the Egyptian border, and in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Amid all this, international pressure is growing over the humanitarian crisis. US President Joe Biden has said Israel is starting to lose global support over its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza.

The UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, meanwhile, says the rest of the Gaza Strip is on the brink of a total breakdown of civil order. The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says more than 18,000 people have been killed since the start of the war,

Israel began heavily bombing the Gaza Strip after Hamas killed more than 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostage.