Ruined houses in the Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza Ruined houses in the Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza 

Holy See: Gaza humanitarian situation ‘unacceptable’

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva expresses his "deep concern" over the deaths of five thousand Palestinian children in Gaza, and condemns Hamas' attack on Israel on 7 October.

By Joseph Tulloch

Although, in the context of the Holy Land, “the path of dialogue may currently seem limited”, it is “the only practical solution for a long-term end to the ongoing violence”.

Those were the words of Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations Office and Specialized Agencies in Geneva, on Tuesday.

The Italian-born prelate was speaking at the 74th executive session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board at Geneva's Palais des Nations.

Concern for humanitarian situation in Gaza

Archbishop Balestrero began his address by reiterating the Holy See’s “unequivocal” and “irrevocable” condemnation of “the inhuman terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October.”

“Terrorism and extremism fuel hatred, violence, and revenge and cause mutual suffering”, he said, echoing Pope Francis’ call for the immediate release of all hostages.

He went on to note that “while the Holy See reaffirms the right to self-defense”, the principle of proportionality must always be respected.

In this context, he said, he wanted to reiterate “the Holy See’s deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Archbishop Balestrero noted that thousands of Palestinians have lost their lives, including more than 5,000 children.

“This indiscriminate suffering of the population is unacceptable”, he stressed.

The necessity of dialogue

Archbishop Balestrero went on to make a plea for the two sides to speak to one another.

“My delegation,” he said, “calls on the authorities of Israel and Palestine to boldly renew their commitment to a peace based on justice and respect for the legitimate aspirations of both sides.”

“Although the path of dialogue may currently seem limited,” he emphasised, “it is the only practical solution for a long-term end to the ongoing violence affecting Christians, Jews and Muslims in the region.”

He stressed the Holy See’s commitment to the two-state solution, affirming that it is “confident” that this remains a “viable option for achieving this peace.”

Pope Francis’ words

Archbishop Balestrero brought his address to a close by quoting at length from Pope Francis’ recent appeal for peace, saying that he hoped the words would “deeply resonate within the hearts of all those present.”

“Enough! Enough, brothers! In Gaza, let the wounded be rescued immediately, let civilians be protected, let far more humanitarian aid be allowed to reach that stricken population.”

“Every human being, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, of any people or religion, every human being is sacred, is precious in the eyes of God and has the right to live in peace."

"Let us not lose hope: let us pray and work tirelessly so that the sense of humanity may prevail over hardness of heart.”

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21 November 2023, 14:50