Pope Francis once warned Israeli President: ‘Response to terror with terror is…’
The diplomatic exchange between the Pope and Israel's President was never reported by the Israeli administration before as it was deemed “bad”.
In a blunt rejoinder to Israeli President Isaac Herzog over a phone call amid the offensive against Hamas in Gaza in late October, Pope Francis reminded the Israeli head of state that it is “forbidden to respond to terror with terror.” The Washington Post reported, citing an Israeli official, how the Pope responded to Herzog's fraught call, in which the Israeli President was describing how important it was for his country to defend its citizens, by saying those responsible for the October 7 carnage should be held accountable but not at the cost of civilian lives.
The diplomatic exchange was never reported by the Israeli administration before as it was deemed “bad”. However, the Pope's response resonated with his latest statement in which he described the fighting between both sides as “terrorism", after meeting the families of Israeli hostages. “I heard how both sides suffer, and this is what wars do, but here we’ve gone beyond war." It was, however, unclear whether the Pope was referring to a specific action or the whole conflict.
Meanwhile, in a shift of tone, the US has stressed the need to comply with international law while fighting Hamas in Gaza. Top US official Antony Blinken wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he emphasised the “need for Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm” during the meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As the truce deal in a bid to release as many hostages as possible from Gaza enters the seventh day after a second extension from the initial agreement, the international mediators are seeking to lengthen the ceasefire beyond Thursday.
However, Israel has been reiterating its position on re-launching its offensive against Hamas soon after the truce is over. The White House has also extended its support to Israel's prospective operation. “When Israel decides to go after Hamas again, it will continue to find support from the US,” said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.