Pope Calls Israel-Hamas War ‘Terrorism’
A bizarre statement by the head of the Roman Catholic church.
Reuters (“Pope says Israel-Hamas conflict has gone beyond war to ‘terrorism’“):
Pope Francis on Wednesday met separately with Israeli relatives of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with family in Gaza and said the conflict had gone beyond war to become “terrorism”.
Speaking in unscripted remarks at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square shortly after the meetings in his residence, Francis said he heard directly how “both sides are suffering” in the conflict.
“This is what wars do. But here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism,” he said.
He asked for prayers so that both sides would “not go ahead with passions, which, in the end, kill everyone”.
Israel’s Ambassador to the Vatican Raphael Schutz said he did not want to refer directly to what the pope had said but added: “There is a simple distinction, one side is murdering, raping, and does not care about those on their own side. The other side is engaged in a war of self-defence.”
Schutz was speaking at a news conference with Israeli families who had met the pope. Most said they were not aware of the pope’s comments because they happened after the meeting.
Palestinian families were to hold a news conference later on Wednesday.
During the general audience, a group of Palestinians in the crowd held up pictures of bodies wrapped in white cloth and a placard saying “the Nakba continues”.
Nakba is the Arab word for catastrophe and refers to the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in the 1948 war that surrounded Israel’s founding.
This is a bizarre statement from a leader of his influence and stature. Even more so considering the leading role Catholic theologians played in the creation of Just War theory, the wellspring for the laws of armed conflict. There’s simply no comparison between the actions of Hamas, which initiated this round of violence with horrific acts of terrorism and Israel, which has gone to great lengths to spare civilians among whom Hamas is sheltered.
One wonders if Francis, who turns 87 next month, simply misspoke here.