During his meeting with a Palestinian delegation from the Gaza Strip, the Pope expressed his support and said, ‘We stand with you, we pray for you, and we work towards a ceasefire and the saving of innocent lives.'”

In a collaborative effort between the Higher Presidential Committee for Churches Affairs in Palestine and the Embassy of the State of Palestine to the Holy See, a delegation from Palestine, including families of victims and survivors of the war on Gaza, met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The delegation expressed great appreciation for the Pope’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people. They expressed gratitude for his consistent appeals for a ceasefire, the delivery of humanitarian aid, and ending the killings of innocent civilians. During the meeting, the delegation shared personal stories of their experiences during this war, where some members lost their entire families.
The Pope expressed heartful concern for the dire situation in Gaza, emphasizing that terror doesn’t justify terror. He pointed out to the unjust suffering of innocent civilians, noting that he is in constant contact with Gaza’s church and aware of the suffering the Palestinians endure, due to the shortages of food, water and electricity and communication disruptions. The Pope also highlighted the dire state of hospitals due to fuel shortages and the challenging healthcare situation faced by the Palestinians in Gaza.
The delegation presented a detailed message outlining the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem. Their message called for an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities, the facilitation of entry of humanitarian aid and achieving a lasting and just solution for the question of Palestine. Inviting the Pope to visit Gaza, the delegation believed such a visit could play a crucial role in ending the aggression. The Pope acknowledged the positive nature of the visit and assured the it would be carefully considered.
In a related context, the delegation held a press conference attended by over 25 Italian and international agencies, shedding light on the devastating conditions in Gaza, in particular the collapse of basic and vital services, such as the health sector. The delegation shared with the press the horror experiences their families had to go through for the past 47 days. The delegation also briefed the press on Israeli attacks on Muslim and Christian holy sites in Gaza, where mosques and churches are bombed, as well as violations committed against the Palestinians in the West Bank by Israeli occupation forces and armed settlers.
The delegation, comprising both Muslims and Christians from inside and outside the besieged Gaza Strip shared their personal stories. For instance, Muhammad Halalu spoke of the profound loss of his entire family in the war, highlighting the dire conditions of his family even before the war started.
Fatima Abu Mo’eleq, a child, spoke about the loss of family and friends, urging the Pope to advocate for a safe environment for Palestinian children.
Khadija Derabeh, who is pregnant and expecting a baby girl soon, highlighted the concerns of mothers in Gaza, emphasizing the risks the face. She expressed broader worries about the future of their children amid the ongoing genocide.
Suhair Anstas Tarazi, a Christian and survivor of the war, managed to leave Gaza on the 42nd day of the war. She recounted the challenges she faced in reaching the Rafah crossing, despite the prior coordination for her passage. She is a holder of a foreign passport.
The delegation also addressed Israeli violations against Palestinian prisoners and the high number of arrests, including the Israeli measure of withholding bodies of Palestinians they kill.
It’s noteworthy that the delegation actively participated in the Pope’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, using banners and images to depict the suffering of the Palestinian people and highlight Israeli actions in Gaza. His Holiness addressed the delegation, extending his prayers and support, saying, “God bless you, I pray for you”.

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