Pope Francis on Wednesday pledged to help bring home two Israeli civilians and two slain IDF soldiers being held captive by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza. He made the pledge to the families of the victims during a private meeting at the Israeli Embassy in the Vatican.
The families were accompanied by Israel's Ambassador to the Vatican Rafi Schutz, and head of the Foreign Ministry's Bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions, Shuli Davidovich. They requested assistance from the Pope and the Catholic Church in returning the bodies of the deceased soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, as well as the release of detained citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
During the 45-minute meeting, the Pope addressed each family member, expressing deep solidarity, especially with the suffering of the mothers.
The visit, sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry, took place as part of the Jewish state’s ongoing efforts to raise international awareness about its soldiers and civilians being held in Gaza by Hamas.
The Pope addressed each family member, expressing deep solidarity, and especially with the suffering of the mothers.
“The Pope promised to work with governments and religious leaders, including Muslim leaders, to bring back the sons,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
The previous night, Israeli Ambassador to Italy Alon Bar hosted the families at his home, accompanied by the Italian Army’s Chief of Staff Adm. Giuseppe Cavo Dragone and Israeli Defense Forces Col. Liad Zek, where they participated in a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.