Pope Francis Has Condemned The Violence In Gaza, Saying It Has Gone Beyond War And Is “Terrorism”

“Here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism.”

Pope Francis Has Condemned The Violence In Gaza, Saying It Has Gone Beyond War And Is “Terrorism”

Pope Francis has condemned the violence happening in Gaza, saying it has gone beyond war and become “terrorism”.

On Wednesday Nov. 22, the pope asked people to pray for all those who are suffering as a result of wars around the world, from the “martyred Ukraine” to Israel and Palestine.

Then speaking in unscripted remarks, the pope said that he had met a delegation consisting of the families of the Israeli hostages and another one consisting of Palestinians whose families were imprisoned in Israel.

He said that he had heard about how both sides were suffering so much.

“This is what wars do,” he said. “But here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism.”

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Palestinians carrying belongings flee to safer areas following Israeli bombardments on southern part of Gaza City, Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, Gaza. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“Please let us go forward for peace,” he said, to the applause of the audience, many of whom were seen carrying signs and flags showing their support for Palestine.

He asked everyone to pray “a lot for peace” and that both sides would “not go ahead with passions, which in the end, kill everyone.”

In response Jewish groups have criticized the pontiff and demanded clarification over his comments, according to Reuters.

The Council of the Assembly of Italian Rabbis (ARI) accused “Church leaders” of not condemning the Hamas attack and of “putting the aggressor and the attacked on the same plane in the name of a supposed impartiality”, Reuters reported.

“Hamas’ butchering and kidnapping of civilians is terrorism. Israel’s self-defense is not. Vatican, please clarify,” the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said in a post on X.

10 Palestinians who met with the pope said in a press conference that the pope had condemned Hamas’ action as terror but said that “terror should not justify terror.”

There were also reports from people at the meeting who said the pope had called Israel’s actions in Gaza “genocide”.

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A child and a woman react following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

“When we shared the stories of the families that have been killed (in Gaza) he mentioned ‘I see the genocide’,” Shireen Awwad Hilal, who teaches at the Bethlehem Bible College, said, according to Reuters. “It was very clear, the word genocide did not come from us. It came from His Holiness, Pope Francis.”

Her remarks were backed by others who had been in the meeting.

Other participants at the Palestinian news conference concurred that they had heard the pope use the word genocide.

“We were all there. We heard it and no one has a hearing problem,” Hilal said.

A Vatican spokesman said in a statement that he was “not aware” that the pope had used such a word.

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Smoke rises above buildings in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, following an Israeli strike. (Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)

“He used terms that he expressed during the general audience and words that in any case represent the terrible situation that is being lived out in Gaza,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The pontiff’s comments come hours after the Israeli government and Hamas started a four-day pause for aid to enter and in return for Hamas freeing 50 hostages and Israel releasing 150 Palestinian women and children it holds in its prisons.

Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 7 after it launched a surprise attack on Israel and killed about 1,200 Israelis and took another about 240 hostage to Gaza.

Since then, Israel has killed more than 14,000 Palestinians, including more than 5,000 children, in Gaza with its airstrikes and a ground offensive.

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