Pope Francis, from his convalescent bed battling bronchitis, expressed deep sorrow over the cessation of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. His message, echoing the pain of those trapped in Gaza, underscored the dire situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The end of the truce, he lamented, brought nothing but 'death, destruction, and misery,' as the besieged Palestinian region grapples with severe shortages of essential supplies.
The Pope's Response Amidst Health Concerns
Despite his frail health, the Pontiff demonstrated his resolve by meeting separately with families of Israeli hostages and relatives of Palestinian prisoners. These interactions highlighted the suffering endured by both Israelis and Palestinians due to the conflict. However, his health concerns led to the cancellation of his scheduled visit to Dubai for the COP28 climate conference, as advised by his medical team.
Tensions Escalate in Syria
Meanwhile, tensions in Syria have been on a sharp rise with exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah in Damascus and the Golan Heights. Pro-Iranian militias in eastern Syria have also heightened their activity. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has expressed concerns about the expansion of Israeli and allied wars, calling for an immediate cessation of Israeli massacres against Palestinians and attacks on Syria and Lebanon. Both Damascus and Tehran fear the possibility of the war extending to southern Syria and Lebanon.
Israeli Military Actions and Hamas' Stance
The Israeli military action in Syria has been amplified since the conflict in Gaza, with Syrian rights groups recording various Israeli strikes. In response to these developments, the US has augmented its military presence near the confrontation lines in eastern Syria. In a related development, Hamas leader Osama Hamdan declared that the resumption of prisoner exchange negotiations is contingent upon the cessation of Israeli attacks. He criticized the US for its supporting stance towards Israel, vowing that Israel will pay a price for its actions.