(NewsSpace.com) – On the morning of October 7, Israelis woke up to the shock of finding they were under attack. It quickly became clear who was to blame — the militant group Hamas. Its members had taken the country by storm via land, sea, and air, killing hundreds in the process and taking many captive. The attack was quickly condemned by most of Israel’s allies, though some — like Iran — celebrated the move. Now, the Pope is getting involved, and he’s speaking directly to Hamas with his pleas.
On Wednesday, October 11, Pope Francis addressed a general audience in St. Peter’s Square. He started out acknowledging that he had been following the news “with tears and apprehension” and offered up prayers for those “families who have seen a feast day transformed into a day of mourning.” Pope Francis then made a plea to Hamas: he asked “that the hostages be released immediately.”
The pontiff said Israel had the right to defend itself but cautioned that “terrorism and extremism” are not the answers to the conflict. He stressed that “the Middle East does not need war, but peace” and urged the two sides to open dialogue.
It is not immediately known how many hostages Hamas claims to have, but it’s speculated to be more than 100. The militant group has threatened to kill hostages if the strikes on Gaza persisted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to obliterate Hamas and has ordered the cutoff of all resources to the Gaza Strip, which is home to more than 2 million people.
The total death toll so far is thought to be more than 2,000 combined on both sides. Thousands more are injured, and there is seemingly no end in sight in the immediate future. Hamas said the motive behind the attack was decades of oppression and suffering for the Palestinian people.
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