Holy See Urges Protection of Civilians and Calls for Peace Amid Gaza Crisis
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In a recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the UN, passionately called for the protection of civilians in Gaza and a quest for a just peace. He expressed deep concern over the recent escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, emphasizing the significant suffering it has caused.
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The archbishop denounced the terrorist attack on October 7th, attributing it to Hamas and other armed groups. This attack claimed the lives of 1,400 individuals, with many more wounded and taken hostage. In response to this attack, Israel initiated a self-defense campaign, although it has produced thousands of casualties.
Adding to the humanitarian catastrophe, the Israel has been compelled to cut off supplies to Gaza, fearing these materials will enable further terrorist attacks. So far, some 200 people remain hostage in Gaza. However, this strategic embargo is also causing misery for innocent persons in the region, who are going without electricity, medicines, and sufficient food. This is the tragedy that war produces.
Archbishop Caccia echoed Pope Francis' plea for the immediate release of the hostages and called for an immediate ceasefire. He stressed that terrorism and extremism only breed hatred, violence, and revenge, resulting in mutual suffering.
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip deeply troubles Archbishop Caccia. He expressed sorrow over the loss of innocent Palestinian lives, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, and the indiscriminate suffering of a population deprived of basic necessities.
The Holy See, like in any conflict, called for the absolute protection of all civilians. The archbishop urged that hospitals, medical facilities, refugee camps, schools, places of worship, and their premises should not be targeted by any party involved. This plea aligns with Pope Francis' calls to cease using weapons and avoid an escalation of the conflict. Unfortunately, the terrorists in the region have a long practice of using humanitarian and religious sites as bases of operation, understanding that when they are reduced, they can turn the destruction into a propaganda victory. It is a tremendous evil, but such an enemy cannot be defeated if he is able to use such locations as safe havens. Hence, the papal plea for a cease fire and an end to such evil practices is important to hear.
The Holy See expressed the importance of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) during these trying times. UNRWA plays a crucial role in promoting human development, providing humanitarian services to Palestinian refugees, and offering hope for a peaceful future. The Holy See proposed that UNRWA should have an extended role in the field of education, particularly to provide young Palestinian refugees with opportunities to shape their own futures and foster a culture of encounter while combating terrorism.
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The archbishop acknowledged the sacrifices made by UNRWA personnel and extended deep condolences to their families. Pope Francis and the Holy See call all people to pray for peace, and to work for a better future where neither terrorism nor war, has any place.
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