Sat 02 Dec 2023 4:28 pm - Jerusalem Time
Pope Francis held ‘fraught’ call about Gaza war with Israeli President in October
In late October, Pope Francis spoke by phone with Israeli President Isaac Herzog about the war in Gaza.
The call was described as “fraught” according to a report published by the Washington Post on Thursday, citing a senior Israeli official familiar with the call, which had not been previously reported.
During the call, Herzog informed the Pope of the “unprecedented shock” that Israel felt as a result of the Hamas attack on October 7, while the Pope said that “it is forbidden to respond to terrorism with terrorism,” according to what the newspaper quoted the Israeli official as saying.
On Friday, a source in the Vatican confirmed to CNN that the phone call between the Israeli president and the Pope took place at the end of October, but CNN was unable to verify that Francis used the word “terrorism.”
The Vatican said, in a statement to the Washington Post about the call, that it was “like other phone calls that took place on the same days, it took place in the context of the Pope’s efforts to contain the seriousness and scope of the conflict in the Holy Land.”
A few days after his phone call with Herzog, the Pope spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on November 2, and on October 22, with US President Joe Biden about the war.
The Pope had publicly described the fighting between Israel and Hamas as "going beyond war...it is terrorism."
On November 22, during a general meeting in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said: “This morning I received two delegations, one of them Israelis who have relatives hostage in Gaza and the other Palestinians who have relatives suffering in Gaza... They are suffering a lot, and I heard how they both suffer.” “Wars do this, but here we have gone beyond war. This is not war, this is terrorism.”
The Pope has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas and is in regular contact with the Catholic community in Gaza.