On Wednesday, Pope Francis expressed his condemnation of "terrorism and extremism", affirmed his backing for Israel's right to self-defence, and urged the swift release of all individuals held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to thousands in St. Peter's Square during his General Audience address, the Pope stated:
“I continue to follow with tears and apprehension what is happening in Israel and Palestine: so many people killed, others injured. I pray for those families who have seen a day of celebration turned into a day of mourning, and I call for the immediate release of the hostages.”
The Pope acknowledged Israel's sovereign right to self-defence, while also voicing his worries over the plight of civilians in Gaza. According to Israeli authorities, these innocent individuals are under the grip of Hamas militants who have taken hostages.
“It is the right of those under attack to defend themselves, but I am very concerned about the total siege under which Palestinians live in Gaza, where there have also been many innocent victims.”
The Pope strongly criticised "terrorism and extremism", noting they "fuel hatred, violence, revenge", and underscored the pressing need for peace in the Middle East.