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Pope pleas with Hamas to release hostages after attacks

150 Israelis taken hostage by Hamas during Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel

Published: October 20, 2023   
CNS photo/ Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to pray the Angelus Oct. 15, 2023.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis condemned Hamas' terrorist attacks on Israel and pleaded with the militants to free their hostages unharmed, but he also expressed concern about Israel's tightening siege on Gaza and its impact on innocent civilians. 

"I continue to follow with sorrow and apprehension what is happening in Israel and Palestine. So many people killed, and others injured," the pope said Oct. 11 at the end of his weekly general audience. 

The Israeli Defense Forces reported more than 1,200 Israelis killed by Hamas and more than 2,800 Israelis injured. At the same time, the Gaza Ministry of Health was reporting a death toll of more than 950 Palestinians and said 5,000 others were injured as Israel continued its airstrikes on Gaza. 

"I pray for all those families that saw a day of celebration be transformed into a day of mourning" Oct. 7, the pope said.

Israeli government officials have estimated that Hamas is holding some 150 Israeli hostages.

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