On Wednesday, Pope Francis urged the prompt release of prisoners kidnapped during hostilities between Israel and Hamas and emphasised his concern about the Gaza closure.
At the conclusion of his weekly audience at the Vatican, the 86-year-old leader of the Catholic Church around the world pleaded for the hostages’ quick release.
“Those who are attacked have a right to defend themselves, but I am very concerned about the total siege under which the Palestinians in Gaza live, where there have also been many unintentional casualties,” he continued.
“Terrorism and extremism do not help reach a solution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, but fuel hatred, violence, revenge and only make both sides suffer.
“The Middle East does not need war but peace, a peace built on justice, dialogue and the courage of fraternity.”
The death toll from five days of ferocious fighting between Hamas and Israel rose sharply overnight as Israel kept up its bombardment of Gaza Wednesday.
In Israel, the death toll from Saturday’s shock cross-border assault by Hamas militants rose to 1,200, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history.
Meanwhile, Gaza officials reported more than 900 people killed as Israel pounded the territory with air strikes.