LONDON – Pope Francis on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza amid escalating violence and a humanitarian catastrophe in the enclave.
The Pope, addressing a crowd of the faithful in St. Peter's Square in Rome during his Sunday Angelus, urged the world to join in prayer for the resolution of the serious situation in Gaza.
He also appealed for the release of all hostages held by Hamas.
"Let there be a ceasefire. War is always a defeat -- always, always," he said.
"May no one abandon the possibility that the weapons might be silenced," he added.
Israel has heavily bombarded Gaza since Oct. 7 when the Palestinian group Hamas carried out a cross-border attack, killing 1,400 people, and taking many hostages.
The number of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza has risen to 8,005, including 3,342 children, 2,062 women, and 460 elderly, according to the Health Ministry.
The Israeli army's spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, on Saturday announced "expanding its operations," and moving to the "next phase of our war against Hamas," which includes ground operations.
Gaza's 2.3 million residents are also grappling with shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicine due to Israel’s blockade of the enclave. (Anadolu)