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‘Stop, stop!’ Pope Francis urges over Hamas-Israel conflict

by Agence France Presse

VATICAN City, Holy See: Pope Francis pleaded Sunday for an end to the Hamas-Israeli conflict amid fears it could widen, and called for more humanitarian aid to be allowed into the Gaza Strip.

“War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!” Francis said after his traditional Angelus prayer at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

“I renew my call for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive and for hostages to be freed,” the 86-year-old pontiff said.

Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people.

Israel’s retaliatory bombing campaign has killed more than 4,300 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, and reduced swathes of densely populated Gaza to smoldering ruins.

“War, any war that there is in the world — I also think of tormented Ukraine — is a defeat,” Francis said.

The pope also spoke to US President Joe Biden on Sunday about “conflict situations in the world and the need to identify paths to peace”, according to the Vatican.

The conversation lasted about 20 minutes, its press office said.

Alarm has grown about a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where Israel has cut off water, food and power.

A first trickle of aid entered the besieged Strip on Saturday, but UN officials said the 20 trucks permitted to cross were not enough given the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation for 2.4 million people.

Two US hostages were released Friday but over 200 people abducted by the militants are still being held.

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