Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024
alert-–-pope-pleads-for-peace-in-the-middle-east:-francis-calls-for-end-to-israel-hamas-war-in-saint-peter’s-square-amid-fears-conflict-could-spreadAlert – Pope pleads for peace in the Middle East: Francis calls for end to Israel-Hamas war in Saint Peter’s Square amid fears conflict could spread

Pope Francis has pleaded for peace in the Middle East this morning, calling for more more humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza as the conflict between Israel and Hamas enters its third week.

Speaking in Rome’s St Peter’s Square this morning, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said: ‘War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!’

‘I renew my call for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive and for hostages to be freed.’ 

The conflict in the Middle East has already claimed the lives of thousands of people since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on October 7.

More than 1,400 Israelis have died, with more missing or  abducted, while 4,300 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. 

Pope Francis has pleaded for peace in the Middle East this morning, calling for more more humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza as the conflict between Israel and Hamas enters its third week

Speaking in Rome’s St Peter’s Square this morning, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said: ‘War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop! Stop!’

An aerial view of destruction after Israeli attack in Nuseirat camp, Gaza Strip on October 2

Last night, Israel continued its retaliatory airstrike on the Gaza Strip,  as well as two airports in Syria and a mosque allegedly used by terrorists in the occupied West Bank, increasing fears that the war could erupt into a regional conflict.

The humanitarian crisis within the Palestinian enclave is continuing to grow, with civilians running out of food, clean water 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. 

The World Health Organization warned that at least 130 premature babies are at ‘grave risk’ because of a shortage of generator fuel. It said seven hospitals in northern Gaza have been forces to shut down. 

Meanwhile tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah are continuing to grow.

The Israeli military said the group’s increased attacks risk ‘dragging Lebanon into a war’, with renewed cross-border exchanges of fire that have raised fears of a wider conflict.

‘Hezbollah… is dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from, but stands to lose a lot,’ Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

‘Hezbollah is playing a very, very dangerous game. They’re escalating the situation. We see more and more attacks every day.

Israel carried out airstrikes on a mosque allegedly used by terrorists in the occupied West Bank, increasing fears that the war could erupt into a regional conflict. Pictured: View of the damage to Al-Ansar mosque 

Israeli soldiers gather near a Merkava tank as they man a position at an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon

Supporters of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and relatives carry the coffin of Hezbollah fighter Bilal Rmeity, allegedly killed following an Israeli shelling

‘Is the Lebanese state really willing to jeopardise what is left of Lebanese prosperity and Lebanese sovereignty for the sake of terrorists in Gaza?’ he added.

So far this weekend, cross-border attacks have killed six Hezbollah fighters and a member of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in Lebanon, while three Israeli troops were wounded, one seriously, in Hezbollah anti-tank fire. Two Thai farm workers were also hurt.

Today Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said diplomatic efforts were ongoing to ‘stop Israeli attacks on Lebanon’ and prevent the Gaza conflict from spilling into his country.

‘Lebanon’s friends are with us in continuing to make every effort to return the situation to normal,’ Mikati said in a statement.

However, Lebanon was developing an emergency response plan ‘as a precaution’, he added.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned that the Israel-Hamas war, which has been ongoing for two weeks now, risks unleashing a ‘contagion of conflict’ across the Middle East. 

Mr Sunak, who visited Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for talks with key regional players this week, said the leaders agreed ‘we need to do everything possible’ to prevent the spread of the war.

He said his two-day visit to the region demonstrated ‘that the UK stands in solidarity with them against terrorism’ and that ‘there can be no justification’ for the atrocities committed by Hamas.

‘I wanted to sit down with other leaders and talk face to face. Because in times of tension and division, it’s more important than ever to accelerate diplomatic efforts,’ he added.

He said the opening of the border crossing with Egypt to allow an aid convoy into the Gaza Strip was an example of what could be achieved.

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