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Gerard O’ConnellNovember 12, 2023
Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip on Salah al-Din Street in Bureij, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip on Salah al-Din Street in Bureij, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Pope Francis delivered yet another passionate appeal for an end to the fighting and killing in Palestine and Israel when he greeted thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at midday on Nov. 12.

“Let the guns stop. They never bring peace. Let the conflict not spread. Stop! Stop, brothers! Stop!” he pleaded, calling for an end to the 36-day war. Israel has continued a constant bombing of Gaza since the conflict started on Oct. 7 in retaliation for the attack by Hamas in southern Israel.

According to the Israeli government, Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took 240 hostages. The Israeli bombing has already killed 11,100 Palestinians, including 4,506 children, while another 1,500 children are missing, according to the Gaza Ministry for Health.

His plea that the war not spread came as clashes between Hezbollah and Israel increased along the border with Lebanon.

“Let the guns stop. They never bring peace. Let the conflict not spread. Stop! Stop, brothers! Stop!”

“My thoughts go every day to the very serious situation in Israel and Palestine. I am close to all those who are suffering, Palestinians and Israelis. I embrace them in this dark moment. I pray a lot for them,” the pope said.

“Let help be given immediately to the wounded.” At least 28,000 Palestinians have been injured, according to the Gaza Ministry for Health, as a result of Israeli bombing of crowded refugee camps, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches and residential buildings.

“Let the civilians be protected. Let much more humanitarian aid be given to that distraught population,” Pope Francis said. More than 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza live in the 141 square mile enclave. They have been deprived of electricity, gas, fuel, food, water and medical supplies as a result of Israel’s total blockade of Gaza.

Before Oct. 7, Gaza received 500 truckloads of provisions each day. According to the latest U.N. situation report on Nov. 10, just 861 trucks of aid have been allowed into the strip since Oct. 21. Israeli authorities have ordered that no fuel be allowed into Gaza, fearing its diversion to use by Hamas.

The last generator at Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al Shifa in north Gaza, ran out of fuel on Nov. 11, leading to the deaths of three premature babies and four other patients, according to the health ministry. With no fuel for generators and no electricity to power incubators, another 36 babies are at risk of dying.

“Let us not lose hope. Let us pray; let us continue to work unceasingly so that the sense of humanity may prevail over the hardness of heart.”

Pope Francis again called for the release of all the hostages held by Hamas. “Let every hostage be released, among whom are many elderly people and children,” the pope said. The hostages are mainly Israelis but also come from 30 other countries.

In his address today, Pope Francis also sought to counteract the dehumanization of the other that is being carried out by both sides in the information war that accompanies the military conflict. He said, “Every human being, be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim, of whatever people or religion, every human being is sacred and precious in the eyes of God and has the right to live in peace.”

He concluded his message by seeking to encourage people worldwide, especially the victims of this war. “Let us not lose hope. Let us pray; let us continue to work unceasingly so that the sense of humanity may prevail over the hardness of heart.”

Pope Francis added an appeal for prayers “for the martyred people of Ukraine,” who are suffering from a war that started with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Now in its 627 day with no end in sight. The international focus on this war has been somewhat eclipsed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Pope Francis also pleaded for international efforts to bring an end to the months’ old civil war in Sudan, which has displaced millions of people, creating a great need for humanitarian aid.

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