“Israel-Hamas conflict has gone from war to terrorism” – Pope Francis

Pope Francis says the on-going conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has morphed from war to terrorism.

The Pope spoke yesterday, while delivering his remarks at St. Peter’s Square, a plaza located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave in Rome.

Francis said he met separately with relatives of Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israel and heard directly how “both sides are suffering” from the conflict.

He begged for peace so that both sides would not be consumed with “passions, which in the end, kill everyone”. “This is what wars do. But here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism”, he added.

Francis, however, did not mention the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas which was concluded hours before his speech.

A statement from the Israeli government said at least 50 hostages — women and children — will be released in Gaza over four days and hinted that the ceasefire could be extended.

A Hamas statement, on the other hand, said 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children, held in Israeli jails will also be released as part of the deal.

The truce would also allow the entry of “a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid,” the statement said, adding that the start time of the pause in fighting would be announced within the next 24 hours.

The agreement marks a major diplomatic breakthrough nearly seven weeks after the start of a conflict that has spiralled into a grave humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

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