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    Pope Francis appeals for urgent humanitarian aid for Gaza, backs cease-fire proposals


    VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called Sunday for humanitarian aid to urgently reach Palestinians in Gaza and for Israel and Hamas to immediately accept proposals for a cease-fire and release of hostages.

    During his Sunday noon blessing, Francis also thanked Jordan, which this week will host an international humanitarian aid conference for Palestinians.

    “I encourage the international community to act urgently, with all means, to come to the aid of the people of Gaza, worn out by the war,” he said. “Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach those in need, and no one can impede it.”

    He recalled that Saturday marked the 10-year anniversary of a peace prayer he hosted in the Vatican gardens, attended by then-Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

    “This meeting showed that shaking hands is possible, and that to make peace, you need courage — much more courage than to make war,” he said.

    Francis threw his support behind cease-fire proposals and said he hoped the terms would be quickly accepted by both sides, even though he acknowledged negotiations “are not easy.”

    “I hope that the peace proposals on all fronts that have been presented and for the release of hostages will be accepted immediately for the sake of the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said.

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    Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war



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