Pope deplores end of Israel-Hamas truce, voices hope for new ceasefire

Pope Francis holds weekly audience at the Vatican
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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -Pope Francis on Sunday said it was "painful" to see that the truce between Israel and Hamas had been broken, and voiced hope that all parties involved can reach a new ceasefire "as soon as possible".

A seven-day pause in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, which had allowed the exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, collapsed on Friday. On Sunday, Israel stepped up its bombing campaign.

More than 15,400 Palestinians have been killed as of Sunday, according to Palestinian officials, in the conflict that broke out after a Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and more than 200 taken hostage.

"It is painful that the truce has been broken. This means death, destruction and misery," Francis said - his words read out by an aide because of the pope's frail health - during his Sunday Angelus message and prayers.

"Many hostages have been freed but many are still in Gaza. We think of them, of their families, who had seen a light, a hope of embracing their loved ones again."

"In Gaza there is a lot of suffering, there is a lack of basic necessities," Francis said. "I hope that all those involved can reach a new agreement for a ceasefire as soon as possible," he added, and find "solutions other than weapons".

The pope is limiting his public speaking and his appearances because he is recovering from a lung inflammation that forced him, among other things, to cancel a trip to Dubai this weekend for the COP28 U.N. climate summit.

"Dear brothers and sisters, good morning. Today as well I will not be able to read everything. I am getting better, but my voice is still (not good)," Francis said at the start of the Angelus.

Screens were placed in St Peter's Square so that the faithful, who normally listen to the pope speaking from a window overlooking the square, could follow his message.

At the end, they greeted him with chants of "Viva il papa!" (Long live the pope).

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey)