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Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza, seen from a viewpoint in southern Israel, October 24 (OSV News /Violeta Santos Moura, Reuters)

Pope Francis has called for a ceasefire in the Holy Land, especially in Gaza where a humanitarian catastrophe has unfolded, and for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Source: Vatican News.

Addressing the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus, the Holy Father invited everyone to “continue to pray … for the serious situation in Palestine and Israel”. In particular, he asked that humanitarian aid be allowed to enter Gaza and that all hostages be freed.

The situation in Gaza has intensified over the past few days. More than 7200 people have been confirmed dead since October 7, after Hamas carried out a deadly attack on Israel, which responded with repeated airstrikes and several incursions into Gaza.

Pope Francis quoted Fr Ibrahim Faltas, the Egyptian Franciscan vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, who recently spoke on the Italian television program A Sua Immagine (In his image). 

“I listened to him and he said ‘cease fire, cease fire’,” explained the Pontiff.

“We too, like Fr Ibrahim, say ‘cease fire’, said the Pope, adding “stop, brothers and sisters: war is always a defeat — always, always!”

Meanwhile, six former Australian prime ministers have made an unprecedented intervention in the Israel-Hamas conflict, issuing a joint letter declaring, “There is no more tenaciously evil race hatred than antisemitism” and warning that terrorist organisation Hamas wants to fuel ancient hatreds throughout the world, The Age reports.

In a public letter drafted by John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, all six said that “no complaint or concern about international affairs justifies hate speech against any Australian or any Australian community.”

“We believe we speak for the vast majority of Australians, of all faiths and of none, when we say we stand in solidarity with Jewish Australians at this time.”

“Likewise, we stand too with the Australian Palestinian community whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict.

“They, too, deserve our love and support. Our nation’s success depends on us not allowing conflict overseas to turn Australians against each other.”


 Pope Francis calls for a ceasefire in the Holy Land (By Francesca Merlo, Vatican News)

Six ex-prime ministers unite to condemn ‘hatred’ spread by Hamas (The Age)