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Report: Pope Francis had a “fraught” call with the Israeli president in October about the Gaza war

From CNN’s Christopher Lamb

Pope Francis is surrounded by bishops at the end of the weekly general assembly at the Vatican on November 29.

Massimo Valichia/NurPhoto/Getty Images

In late October, Pope Francis spoke by phone with Israeli President Isaac Herzog about the Israel-Hamas war.

The conversation between the pair was described as “a packed phone call”. A Washington Post report Thursday, citing a senior Israeli official familiar with the call, which had not been previously announced.

Herzog told Francis of the shock in Israel after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, when the pope bluntly stated that “intimidation of terrorism is forbidden,” the Post reported, citing an Israeli official.

A Vatican source confirmed to CNN on Friday that there was a phone call between the Israeli president and the pope in late October, but CNN could not verify that Francis used “terrorist” comments.

In a statement to the Washington Post about the call, the Vatican said, “This phone call, like the others that took place in the same days, takes place in the context of the Holy Father’s efforts to contain the gravity and scope of the conflict situation. Holy Land.”

After a phone call with Herzog, the Pope spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on November 2. On October 22, Francis called US President Joe Biden about the war.

Some background: The Pope has publicly described the war between Israel and Hamas as terrorism.

On November 22, during a public meeting in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said, ‚ÄúThis morning, I received two delegations, one of Israelis with relatives who are hostages in Gaza and another of Palestinians who are suffering in Gaza. They suffer greatly, and I hear how they both suffer: wars do this, but here we have gone beyond war. This is not war; This is terrorism.”

The Pope has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and is in regular contact with the Catholic community in Gaza.

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