Pope Francis Sunday made an urgent plea for a halt to the conflict in Gaza on Sunday, calling for humanitarian aid and help for those injured to ease the “very grave” situation.

“I keep thinking about the grave situation in Palestine and Israel where many people have lost their lives. I pray for you to stop in the name of God, cease the fire,” he said, speaking to crowds in St Peter’s Square after his weekly Angelus prayer.

“I hope that all will be done to avoid the conflict from widening, that the injured will be rescued, and aid will reach the population of Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is very grave,” he continued.

The pontiff renewed his calls for a ceasefire and the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its October 7 attack, with a focus on the children who he said “must return to their families”.

“Let’s think about the children, all the children involved in this war, like in Ukraine and other conflicts; their future is being killed,” he added.

Pope Francis, 86, has already called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and emphasised the need for a two-state solution to end the Israel-Hamas war.

A Gaza health official reported on Sunday that more than 9,770 Palestinians have been martyred in the conflict, which began when Hamas fighters launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 people and the abduction of more than 240 others.

The Pope extended his prayers to include the victims of the Nepal earthquake, Afghan refugees, and those affected by floods in Italy.

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