Pope: Free Israeli hostages and end the Gaza war

Pope Francis delivers his Christmas Day message (25/12/23)
Image caption,The Pope lamented the civilian victims of the Israel -Gaza war

By Raffi Berg

BBC News

The Pope has called for an end to the war in Gaza and for the freeing of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

In his traditional Christmas Day message, Pope Francis also called for more aid to Gaza in order to solve a “desperate humanitarian situation”.

The war between Israel and Hamas began on 7 October, when Hamas gunmen attacked Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostage.

More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombing, Hamas says.

Speaking to thousands of worshippers gathered at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the Pope lamented violence against Israelis and Palestinians.

“I bear in my heart the sorrow of the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October and I reiterate my urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage.

“I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and I call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid,” he said.

Israel says 132 people are still being held hostage in Gaza after others were released, and one rescued.

Turning to other conflicts across the world, the Pope also called for “peace for Ukraine”, where the war with Russia has been going on for nearly two years.

He also said that he prayed “that political and social stability will soon be attained” in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, countries rocked by years of war and unrest.

Pope Francis expressed his wish for peaceful solutions for other troublespots, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, parts of Africa and North and South Korea.

He also spoke up for millions of migrants around the world, http://popicedingin.com/ highlighting those killed “in odysseys undertaken in desperation and in search of hope”, calling them “the little Jesuses of today”.

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