Pope Francis used his strongest language to date in condemning ongoing Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, calling them acts of “terrorism.”
“I continue receiving very serious and sad news about Gaza,” the pontiff said following his weekly Angelus prayer in the Vatican.
“Unarmed civilians are targets for bombs and gunfire,” he stated. “And this has happened even within the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities, sisters.”
The pope went on to cite a specific case of a mother and her daughter, Nahida Khalil Anton and Samar Kamal Anton, who were allegedly killed in attacks, as well as a damaged generator at “the house of the Sisters of Mother Teresa.”
“Some are saying, ‘This is terrorism and war,’” he declared. “Yes, it is war, it is terrorism. That is why Scripture says that ‘God puts an end to war…the bow he breaks and the spear he snaps’ (cf. Ps 46:9).”
While critics of Israel — including President Joe Biden — have accused Israelis of “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza following the Oct. 7 attack by the Hamas Palestinian terror group that left over 1,300 dead, recent reports suggest otherwise.
According to ABC News contributor Steve Ganyard, a former State Department official and Marine Corps fighter pilot, a U.S. intelligence report indicates a historically high level use of precision weapons in urban warfare against Hamas.
“Precision weapons are expensive and in short supply compared to ‘dumb’ bombs, but if Israel is using precision aerial weapons 55-60% of the time, then that is more than any country in the history of urban warfare,” Ganyard said.
According to one official with the U.S. Department of Defense, Israel is “doing everything it can to mitigate civilian harm and casualties, including with its use of unguided munitions.”
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, said Sunday that Israel is pursuing three goals in its ground operation in Gaza: namely, to “dismantle Hamas,” to “restore security” to the residents of the communities near the Gaza Strip, and to secure “the return of the hostages.”
The extreme difficulty of distinguishing terrorists from ordinary civilians in a setting like Gaza was borne out tragically by the accidental shooting Friday of three Israeli hostages by Israeli soldiers who had mistaken them for terrorists on the battlefield.