“Enough” conflict, says Pope Francis as he calls for more aid to Gaza

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday reiterated his plea for an end to hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians, and called for “much more” humanitarian aid for Gaza.

“Enough, enough brothers, enough”, Francis said, adding the wounded in the Gaza Strip needed to be taken care of immediately and the protection of civilians assured. He also said hostages held by Hamas must be freed.

Addressing the crowds in St Peter’s Square after his weekly Angelus prayers, Francis said arms would never bring peace and that the conflict must not widen.

“I am close to all those who suffer, Palestinians and Israelis,” he said, adding he was praying for them.

Israel said on Sunday it was ready to evacuate babies from Gaza’s largest hospital, but Palestinian officials said people inside were still trapped as intense fighting rages nearby.

Very little aid has entered Gaza since Israel declared war on Hamas more than a month ago after militants rampaged through southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Palestinian officials said on Friday that 11,078 Gaza residents had been killed in air and artillery strikes since then, around 40% of them children.

Francis, 86, has already called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and has said a two-state solution was needed to end the Israel-Hamas conflict.

(Reporting by Federico Maccioni, editing by Kirsten Donovan and Barbara Lewis)