Pope Francis on Wednesday met separately with Israeli relatives of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with families in Gaza and said that the conflict has gone beyond war and become "terrorism." This was reported by Reuters.
During a general audience in St. Peter's Square, he said that he heard "the suffering of both sides" and called for prayer to avoid further loss of life.
A group of Palestinians in the crowd expressed their disagreement by holding up photos of the bodies of Israeli hostages and a banner that read "The Nakba continues."
Both sides will hold separate press conferences to tell their stories.
The meetings and the Pope's comments came hours after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza for at least four days to allow for the provision of aid and the release of at least 50 hostages taken by the militants in exchange for at least 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
According to Israeli estimates, Israel placed Gaza under siege and relentless bombardment after Hamas militants attacked cities in southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 hostages.
Since then, more than 14,000 Gazans have been killed, about 40% of them children, according to medical officials in Hamas-controlled territory, figures the UN considers credible.