Pope Francis Meets Families Of Israeli Hostages

Pope Francis met Monday with family of three Israelis kidnapped by Hamas in the October 7 attacks.

The 87-year-old pontiff had earlier met with a group of hostage relatives in the Vatican in November, on the same day that Palestinians with family in Gaza met.

Members of five Israeli families met with Francis privately on Monday, showing him posters of loved ones who had been kidnapped, including Ariel and Kfir Bibas, who were four and one years old, respectively.

There were also families of hostages Tamir Nimrodi (19), Guy Gilboa-Dalal (22), Agam Berger (19), and Omri Miran (46).

Ashley Waxman, Berger’s cousin, described the meeting as “very emotional” and “very powerful” later.

This photo taken and handout on April 8, 2024 by The Vatican Media shows Pope Francis during a meeting with relatives of Israeli hostages from the Bibas family (Shiri, Yarden, Ariel, Kfir), Omri Miran, Agam Berger, Guy Gilboa Dalal and Tamir Nimrodi, held in Gaza since October 7 attacks by Hamas militants. (Photo by Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP)

The pope “called Hamas evil, which they are… And, he was very clear that the hostages need to come home”, she told a press conference.

Gilboa-Dalal’s mother, Meirav, said that since he was taken hostage at a music festival on October 7, “for me, there is no day and no night”.

“My heart is broken. I can barely breathe. And I am paralysed with fear. Where is my Guy? Where? When will my Guy come home?”

The October 7 attack killed 1,170 Israelis and foreigners, the majority of whom were civilians, according to an AFP assessment based on official Israeli numbers.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants also kidnapped over 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, 129 of whom remain in Gaza. The Israeli army claims that 34 of those still missing have died.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in the besieged Palestinian territory, Israel’s retaliatory bombing and military offensive have killed at least 33,175 individuals in Gaza over the last six months, the majority of them are women and children.

Following his monthly Sunday prayer at the Vatican, the Pope reiterated his call for peace.

“Let us always pray for peace, a just, lasting peace, in particular for martyred Ukraine and for Palestine and Israel,” he said.

The Israelis were in Italy as part of a delegation that included Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

Katz met his Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani, on Sunday, the six-month anniversary of Hamas attack in southern Israel.

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