Pope Calls for New Gaza Ceasefire Amidst Escalation of Raids by Israel
Pope Francis has appealed for a renewed ceasefire in Gaza amid escalating violence and a rising civilian death toll following the collapse of a recent truce. His plea comes as Israel stepped up its air raids in the region, which resulted in numerous Palestinian casualties and civilians desperately seeking refuge.
Expressing his sorrow from the Vatican, the Pope emphasized the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, citing the lack of basic necessities and widespread suffering. He also highlighted the significant number of casualties reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry, exceeding 15,500 people over eight weeks of conflict.
Israel intensified its attacks along Gaza's northern border, leading to dramatic plumes of smoke, while also claiming to have intercepted most of the 17 rocket attacks launched from the area. The United Nations relayed that two separate incidents in northern Gaza killed at least 160 Palestinians, as roughly three-quarters of Gaza's population have been rendered homeless.
UN officials, including human rights chief Volker Turk, have called for cessation of hostilities, declaring the civilian suffering unbearable. Despite a gloomy outlook for a fresh truce, the U.S. has emphasized the need to shield civilians, with Vice President Kamala Harris expressing concern over Palestinian casualties and discussing the crisis with Jordan's King Abdullah.
As Israel conducts more evacuations and military operations move southward in Gaza, local residents fear a potential ground invasion. Israeli tanks have reportedly divided Gaza into isolated sections, and hostility has spiked along Israel's border with Lebanon, leading to reciprocal artillery strikes.