A cardinal in Jerusalem has offered to exchange himself for child hostages, Reuters reports.
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Pope Francis’ representative in the Holy Land, made the comments in Italy but stressed his office could not get in contact with Hamas.
“I am ready for an exchange, anything, if this can lead to freedom, to bring the children home. No problem. There is total willingness on my part,” said Cardinal Pizzaballa.
At least 199 people are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, Israel’s military has said.
The cardinal oversees Roman Catholic activities in Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as Jordan and Cyprus.
He said approximately 1,000 Christians were sheltering in church buildings in northern Gaza after their homes were destroyed in Israeli strikes.
Palestinian PM calls for world community to help ‘immediately’
The Palestinian prime minister has called for immediate international help, saying people in Gaza are living without food, water, electricity and medication.
Delivering an address on the war, Mohammad Shtayyeh said 500 women had been killed and around 11,000 people injured.
“We are not animals like they are painting us,” he said. “Our people are under bombardment. We need humanitarian corridors.”
He is calling for Israel to stop “evicting people from their land” – and said the world community had called for the country to “stop displacing people”.
“They are targeting civilians and hospitals,” he said.
“We are calling on the world community to help immediately. We need to follow the situation minute by minute.”