Pope Francis’ Israel Remarks Spark Fury

Pope Francis has triggered a backlash from Jewish groups who see his comments over the Israeli-Palestinian war as accusing both Hamas and Israel of “terrorism.”

The pontiff met Jewish families with relatives held hostage by Hamas, and Palestinians with families still in the Gaza Strip. He told an audience in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City that he recognized suffering on both sides, saying: “This is what wars do. But here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism.”

At a news conference on Wednesday, representatives of Palestinians who met with Francis quoted him as using the word “genocide” to describe the situation. But Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni denied this and said in a statement: “I am not aware that he used such a word.”

On Monday 20 November, U.S. officials addressed claims of a genocide committed by Israel. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “Israel is not trying to wipe the Palestinian people off the map. Israel is not trying to wipe Gaza off the map. Israel is trying to defend itself against a genocidal terrorist threat.”

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