Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa said Monday that he would be willing to do “anything,” even offer up himself, for the safe return of the hostages held by Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization, according to the National Catholic Register.
The Israeli government confirmed that Hamas had taken at least 199 hostages, including some Americans, during their surprise attack that began on Oct. 7, which left over 1,300 Israelis dead and thousands injured, according to The Times of Israel. Pizzaballa, the head of the Catholic churches in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Jordan, and Cyprus, told reporters during a video conference that he was prepared to do whatever was necessary to “bring those children home,” according to the National Catholic Register.
“Am I ready for an exchange? Anything, if that can lead to freedom and bring those children home, no problem,” Pizzaballa said. “There is an absolute availability on my part.”
Hamas had previously threatened to kill hostages if Israel did not stop bombing the Gaza Strip after thousands of rockets were launched into Israel. The terrorist organization claimed Friday that nine Israeli hostages were killed in Israeli rocket attacks.
The Vatican said Friday that its main concern is getting the hostages back safe and offered to act as a mediator between Hamas and the Israeli government, according to Reuters. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, called for a two-state solution to the war and warned that Israel’s response to Hamas must be proportional.
“The release of Israeli hostages and the protection of innocent lives in Gaza are at the heart of the problem created by Hamas’ attack and the response of the Israeli army,” Parolin said.
Pizzaballa said that he had no direct contact with Hamas, but that it is vital they “find a way to get the hostages back” and called for a day of prayer and fasting on Tuesday, according to the National Catholic Register.
“In this time of sorrow and dismay, we do not want to remain helpless. We cannot let death and its sting (1 Cor 15:55) be the only word we hear,” the cardinal said.
Israel is preparing for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Jewish state is at “war” following Hamas’ attacks. Iran has warned Israel that a ground assault would cross a “red line” and result in a regional conflict.
The Diocese of Jerusalem did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Kate Anderson on October 16, 2023