Pope Francis has deplored the “desperate humanitarian situation” in the Gaza Strip and repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire and provision of aid to the besieged territory.
“I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid,” he said in his Christmas message on Monday.
The pope called for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be resolved through “sincere and persevering dialogue between the parties, sustained by strong political will and the support of the international community.”
He said children dying in wars, including in Gaza, are the "little Jesuses of today" and that Israeli strikes there were reaping an "appalling harvest" of innocent civilians.
Addressing the world on Christmas Eve, the pontiff emphasized the need for peace in the Holy Land.
“Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war, by the clash of arms that even today prevents him from finding room in the world,” the pope said.
He once again took swipe at the armaments industry, saying it ultimately controlled the "puppet-strings of war."
Last week, Pope Francis slammed the Tel Aviv regime for committing terrorism against Palestinians in Gaza, after an Israeli sniper killed two women at a Catholic church in Gaza where they had taken refuge.
More than 20,600 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been slaughtered by the Israeli occupation forces after the regime unleashed a war against the Strip on October 7.
The war, nearing its fourth month, has resulted in a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in Gaza, according to the United Nations.
According to estimates by the aid agencies, up to 85 percent of the 2.3 million people in Gaza - one of the most densely populated areas of the world - have already been displaced from their homes and are now crammed in an ever smaller area near the border.
Humanitarian agencies have warned that Gaza is facing the threat of starvation and disease after aid deliveries were slowed or halted by a lack of fuel and communication blackouts.
In solidarity with the victims of the occupying entity’s unbridled aggression, this year, Christian communities in the city of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as well as in the Gaza Strip have decided to cancel the annual Christmas festivities.
“If Christ was born today, he would be born under the rubble and Israeli shelling,” said Pastor Munther Isaacs of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.
“This year we are not celebrating Christmas, it is impossible to celebrate with genocide happening in our country,” Pastor Isaacs added.