On May 16, Pope Francis called for an end to the conflict in Israel and Gaza, and said the deaths of innocent people in recent days, including children, was unacceptable.
“I appeal for calm, and for those responsible to end the clamour of weapons and to take the path of peace,” he said in a weekly address to worshippers gathered at Saint Peter’s Square.
“Many innocent people have died, amongst them there are also children. This is terrible. Unacceptable. Their death is a sign that (people) don’t want to build a future, but destroy it … I wonder where hatred and revenge will lead?”
Israeli airstrikes destroy media offices
At least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children, in Gaza while in Israel, eight people have been killed so far.
An Israeli air strike on a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip killed 10 people on May 15, while a Palestinian rocket killed a man in Israel. The day also saw an Israeli air strike destroy a tower block in Gaza housing media organizations such as The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. No-one is known to have died in this attack.
The Israeli military said the building housed military assets belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza. The building’s landlord denied this.
Al Jazeera’s director general accused Israel of trying to silence the media and condemned the airstrike as a war crime, and called on the international community to hold Israel accountable.
“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. “They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.”
Diplomatic push to end the conflict
The UN Security Council is meeting on May 16 after Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip demolishing a tower that housed media offices sparked international outcry.
US president Joe Biden spoke to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on May 15 in an effort at mediation to end the conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas. Two days earlier, Biden had said that Israel had a right to defend itself.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz met a US delegation led by Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs on May 16.
The European Union’s foreign ministers will hold an emergency virtual meeting on May 18 to discuss the “ongoing escalation”.
Across the globe on May 15, demonstrators filled the streets including in several major European cities such as London. In Lebanon, protesters were seen at the border for the second day in a row.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki has accused Israel of establishing an apartheid system against the Palestinians and called for political and economic sanctions on the country.
More than 10,000 people have been displaced since the start of the offensive against Gaza, he said. “We anticipate your support to form an international front to confront Israel’s crimes.”