In the early hours of Saturday, October 7, 2023, about a thousand militants from Hamas and other armed militias broke through the barriers between the Gaza Strip and Israel, pouring into Israeli territory, sowing terror and wreaking havoc. About 1,400 people were killed, thousands more wounded and some 220 Israeli soldiers and civilians kidnapped.
The planning, implementation and ferocity of the attack caught Israel by surprise, not only because Israeli intelligence (as well as technologically advanced Western intelligence) had not detected the plan in advance, but also because the army, according to some analysts, took too long to counter the threat. Israelis were shocked and horrified, while some Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank (who are not supporters of Hamas) rejoiced, seeing it as a sign of liberation; others, on the contrary, condemned the ferocity of the indiscriminate killing.
The day after the attack, Sunday, October 8, when international diplomacy still seemed paralyzed by the incident, Pope Francis addressed the world with these words in the context of the Angelus: “I am following apprehensively and sorrowfully what is happening in Israel where violence has exploded yet more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and injured. I express my closeness to the families of the victims. I am praying for them and for all who are living hours of terror and anguish. May the attacks and use of weapons stop. Please! And may it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of many innocent people. War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat. Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine!”