Israel-Hamas Conflict “Gone Beyond Wars, This Is Terrorism” — Pope Francis

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Pope Francis, the bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City State says the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has developed from war to terrorism.

The Vatican spoke on Wednesday while delivering his remarks at St. Peter’s Square, a plaza located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, the papal enclave in Rome.

According to him, he met separately with relatives of Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israel and heard directly how “both sides are suffering” from the conflict.

He begged for peace so that both sides would not be consumed with “passions, which in the end, kill everyone.”

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

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The spiritual leader, however, did not mention the four-day halt and ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas which was concluded hours before his speech.

A statement from the Israeli government said at least 50 hostages, women and children, will be released in Gaza over four days and hinted that the ceasefire could be extended.

A Hamas statement, on the other hand, said 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children, held in Israeli jails will also be released as part of the deal.

The truce, the statement said, would also allow the entry of “a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid.

The start time of the pause in fighting would be announced within the next 24 hours, it disclosed.

The agreement marks a major breakthrough nearly seven weeks after the conflict spiralled into a grave humanitarian crisis.