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Pope Francis calls for urgent humanitarian aid for Gaza and supports ceasefire proposals

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday called for urgent humanitarian aid Palestinians in Gaza and that Israel and Hamas immediately accept proposals for a ceasefire and the release of hostages.

During his blessing on Sunday afternoon, Francis also thanked Jordan, which will host an international humanitarian aid conference for Palestinians this week.

“I encourage the international community to take urgent action, by all means, to come to the aid of the people of Gaza, exhausted by the war,” he said. “Humanitarian aid must be able to reach those in need, and no one can stop it.”

He recalled that Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of a peace prayer he delivered in the Vatican gardens, attended by then-Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“This meeting showed that shaking hands is possible, and that to make peace you need courage – much more courage than to wage war,” he said.

Francis backed the ceasefire proposals and said he hoped the terms would be quickly accepted by both sides, even as he acknowledged negotiations are “not easy.”

“I hope that the peace proposals submitted on all fronts and for the release of hostages will be immediately accepted in the interests of the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said.

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