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Pope calls for Israel-Hamas ceasefire, hostage release

PopeFrancis on Sundaycalledforaceasefirein the war betweenIsraelandHamasand renewed an appealforthereleaseofhostagesheld by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.

“Let no-one abandon the possibility of stopping the weapons,” he said at his weekly blessing in St. Peter’s Square.

“Ceasefire,” he said, mentioning a recent television appeal by Father Ibrahim Faltas, one of the Vatican’s representatives in the Holy Land.

He then added in his own words: “We say ‘ceasefire,ceasefire’. Brothers and sisters, stop! War is always a defeat, always”.

Referring to “the grave situation in Palestine andIsrael,” he said “in Gaza, in particular, let there be room to guarantee humanitarian aid and may thehostagesbe freed immediately”, he said, speaking about Israelihostagesseized byHamason Oct. 7.

Thousands of desperate Gaza residents broke into warehouses and distribution centres of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) grabbing flour and “basic survival items”, the organisation said on Sunday.

Francis spoke as Israeli forces waged ground operations againstHamasin Gaza in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahucalledthe second phase of a three-week-old war aimed at crushing the group.

(Published 29 October 2023, 14:16 IST)

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