Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peterís square during the weekly Angelus prayer on October 22, 2023 in The Vatican. (Photo by AFP)
Pope Francis has called for an end to the ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza and expressed concerns over the grave humanitarian situation in the besieged area.
The pontiff made the plea during his traditional Angelus prayer in Romeís Saint Peterís Square on Sunday, the 16th day of Israelís brutal onslaught against Palestinians which has so far claimed more than 4,000 lives.
Israelís incessant bombardment of Gaza began on October 7 after a surprise military operation by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which came in response to intensified Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
More than 4,700 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli bombardments. Nearly 16,000 have also been injured.
Earlier in the week, the occupying regime carried out fatal strikes on al-Ahli al-Arab Hospital and many mosques in Gaza, where people displaced by the Israeli aggression had sought sanctuary. On Thursday, Israel bombed the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church where many Christians and Muslims had taken refuge.
"I am very concerned and saddened. I pray for and am close to all those who are suffering, the hostages, the injured, the victims and their families. I think of the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, and I am saddened that the Anglican hospital and the Greek-Orthodox parish have also been hit in recent days." Pope said.
"I renew my appeal for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive, and for hostages to be freed. War is always a defeat. It is the destruction of the human fraternity. Brothers, stop, stop,íí he added.
His remarks came amid fears that Israelís relentless campaign of bloodshed and destruction in Gaza could escalate.
Five United Nations agencies have sounded the alarm about the humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip.
"Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities," the UN agencies said in a joint statement on Saturday, adding, "It is now catastrophic. The world must do more."
The first trickle of aid entered the besieged Strip on Saturday after the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened for the first time in two weeks.
But UN officials said the 20 trucks permitted to cross were not enough given the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation for 2.4 million people.