Pope Francis meets families of Israeli hostages

Israel’s hope is that the Pope will use his international acclaim to speed up the release of all the hostages.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Pope Francis met Wednesday morning in the Vatican with representatives of families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza. The families asked him to issue a clear call for the release of all the abductees held by Hamas and not to leave anyone behind.

Yuval Danzig, whose 75-year-old father Alex was abducted in Gaza, said, “At the end of my words, the Pope stated that he had heard about my father.” His father Alex was one of the pioneers of the youth delegations to Poland.

“Terror is worse than war,” the Pope told the delegation and at the end, he warmly shook the hands of all the participants of the meeting and emphasized that he would do everything in his power to help.

Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican Rafi Schutz noted that the meeting is taking place as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ effort to keep the issue at the center of the world agenda, as part of the various steps taken on behalf of the ministry to bring about the speedy release of all the abductees.

Schutz emphasized that the meeting with the Pope is unique in two aspects. “Being the leader of approximately 1.3 billion believers around the world gives his statements about the need to release the abductees a significant international resonance,” he said was the first.

“In addition,” he said, “the connections that the Pope has developed over the course of his ten years in office with religious leaders in the Muslim world may help in this humanitarian effort on a religious and not necessarily a political basis.”

On Tuesday, the delegation met with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Taiani, and with the Minister of Culture Sangiuliano who expressed support and solidarity with the families and called for the immediate release of all the abductees in Gaza.