Wednesday 11 October 2023

Pope Francis Says Israel Has Right To Defend Itself, Condemns Terrorism

 Pope Francis said on Wednesday he condemns “terrorism and extremism,” supports Israel’s right to defend itself, and calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas into the Gaza Strip.

“I continue to follow with tears and apprehension what is happening in Israel and Palestine: so many people killed, others injured,” the Pope said during his General Audience address to thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “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 went on to affirm Israel’s sovereign right to self defense, but expressed his concern for the innocents that will suffer under siege in Gaza, where Hamas terrorists hold the hostages, according to Israeli officials.

“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 turned to condemn “terrorism and extremism,” which “fuel hatred, violence, revenge,” and called for the need for peace in the Middle East.

As has been tradition, since the pontificate of John Paul II, specific greetings were translated to groups that were gathered, in their native languages — from French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish, to Croatian — with the his final remarks given in Italian.

To the English-speaking pilgrims, he specifically mentioned delegates from the NATO Defense College with “prayerful good wishes for their service to the cause for peace”. To the Arabic pilgrims, he emphasized the need for forgiveness. Yet, it was in his Italian address that the Roman Pontiff made clear his position on the ongoing war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Israel said on Tuesday night that the death-toll from Hamas terrorist attacks now exceeds 1,200, with more than 3,000 injured. Officials say Hamas has at least 150 hostages in the Gaza Strip, and has threatened to broadcast executions.

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