(TheIndependentStar.com) – Joe Biden and Pope Francis engaged in an urgent phone conversation to discuss the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza. Reportedly, they focused on the importance of de-escalating the conflict and working towards a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Biden condemned the actions of Hamas, officially labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other nations.
During the call, he informed the Pope about his recent visit to Israel and the steps being taken to ensure the delivery of essential supplies like food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid to Gaza. This effort aims to mitigate the dire humanitarian situation in the region, as stated in a summary from the White House.
Referencing the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican News reported that the conversation, which lasted about 20 minutes, underscored the “need to identify paths of peace.”
It’s worth noting that Biden, the second Catholic U.S. president, had a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2021.
This dialogue between the two leaders comes in the wake of a severe conflict initiated by Hamas, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 individuals in Israel, including numerous civilians. In response, Israeli forces bombarded Gaza, leading to the reported deaths of more than 4,600 Palestinians and injuring over 14,000, per the Gaza Ministry of Health’s data.
Israel also imposed severe restrictions on essential supplies to Gaza, intensifying the already dire humanitarian situation. They directed over 1.1 million Palestinians to relocate to the southern half of the Gaza Strip in anticipation of a ground offensive.
However, reports from Gaza indicate that this area was still targeted. On the other hand, Hamas advised residents to remain in their homes.
Reports from Israeli forces suggested that Hamas has taken 212 individuals hostage, a slight increase from the previously reported figure of at least 203 hostages. This new count comes after the recent release of two American hostages by the militant group.
Earlier in the month, Pope Francis had appealed to Hamas to release hostages taken from Israel and voiced his concerns about Israel’s encirclement of the Gaza Strip.
During Biden’s recent trip to Tel Aviv, he reaffirmed the U.S.’s unwavering support for Israel and announced an agreement allowing humanitarian aid to be transported from Egypt to Gaza. Since then, aid trucks have entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, the only link to Egypt, which had been closed due to Israeli airstrikes.
Furthermore, Biden announced the U.S.’s commitment to allocate $100 million to support residents of Gaza and the West Bank.