On April 13, 2021, it was Memorial Day in Jerusalem, and the Israel president gave a night speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site. He honored those who died fighting for the country. It was also the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and nearby, loudspeakers from four minarets were loudly broadcasting prayers to the faithful. Reliable witnesses reported that Israeli police entered the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and cut the wires to those loudspeakers. This was one of several incidents that led to the sudden resumption of combat between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip. Fighting between Palestinians and Jews had broken out again with the worst violence seen in years. There were mob attacks in mixed Arab-Jewish cities, the firing of rockets toward Israel from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, the Israeli bombing of buildings thought to be Hamas sites, Jordanians marching toward Israel in protest, and Lebanese protesters briefly crossing the southern border into Israel. At least 232 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children, and 12 Israelis including 2 children. The fighting was also the result of years of blockades and restrictions in Gaza, decades of occupation in the West Bank, and discrimination against Arabs within Israel. Pope Francis appealed for calm in the Holy Land as escalating violence threatened to degenerate “into a spiral of death and destruction.” After seven
days of fighting he appealed “in the name of God” for calm in the Holy Land. He said the deaths of dozens of children among them are particularly “terrible and unacceptable.” He said the death of the children is a sign that people do not want to build the future, but to destroy it.” He called for “unceasing” prayer for Israelis and Palestinians to “find the path of dialogue and forgiveness, to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening up, step-by-step, to common hope, to coexistence between brothers.” Pope Francis then asked the faithful to pray for the victims of the conflict, “especially the children.” He said “Let us pray for peace to the Queen of Peace,” and then he lead the recitation of a Hail Mary. After 11 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas agreed on a cease-fire and both claimed victory. The U.S. had been working behind the scenes for days to reach a truce, and the White House had received assurances from the relevant parties that they were committed to the ceasefire. Humanitarian officials warned that the damage to Gaza would take years to rebuild