In his weekly homily, the Pope referred to a statement from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic authority in the Holy Land, about an incident that occurred on Saturday.
The Patriarchate said an Israeli military “sniper” killed two women, identified by the Pope as Nahida Khalil Antoun and her daughter Samar, as they walked to a nunnery on the Holy Family parish complex.
Seven people who tried to protect others were shot dead, the Patriarchate report added.
Pope Francis said, “I continue to receive very dangerous and painful news from Gaza. Unarmed civilians are being bombed and shot. This happened even inside the premises of the Holy Family Parish, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, sick people, people with special needs and nuns.”
The pope added that they were killed by “snipers’ bullets,” and noted that a statement from the Patriarchate said that Mother Teresa’s nunnery was damaged by Israeli tank fire.
He continued, “Someone may say: This is terrorism, this is war. Yes, this is war, this is terrorism.”
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the incident was still under review and had no immediate comment on the pope’s words.
This is the second time in less than a month that Pope Francis has used the word “terror” when addressing the events in Gaza.
He said on November 22 after separately meeting relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with their families in Gaza. “This is what wars do.”
Later in the day, a messy debate erupted over whether the pope had used the word “genocide” to describe the events in Gaza, which Palestinians who met with the Vatican said he had not.
Jewish groups criticized the pope for comments he made about “terrorism” last month.
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