Pope Francis has twice called the priest who leads Gaza’s tiny Catholic community to offer his prayers following fighting sparked by a Hamas attack on Israel, the Vatican said Tuesday.
“The pope called me a few minutes ago… he expressed his closeness and offered his prayers,” Father Gabriel Romanelli told Vatican News, the Vatican’s media outlet.
He said he thanked the 86-year-old pontiff for his comments on Sunday, when Francis called for “peace in Israel and Palestine” and for “the attacks and the weapons” to cease, saying “terrorism and war do not lead to a solution”.
“The pope also called yesterday,” Romanelli added, saying that Francis wanted to know how the people in the parish were doing.
The priest said he was stuck in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank after leaving Gaza to collect some medicines and was now unable to return.
“The Christian community is doing fine, as well as they can in this situation,” he said, adding that his parish was currently hosting around 150 refugees.
The death toll from the war passed 3,000 on Tuesday, the fourth day of fierce fighting since the Gaza-based Islamists launched a surprise attack on Israel.
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