(Communicated by the Office of the President)
His Holiness Pope Francis spoke to President Shimon Peres earlier today (Friday, 18 July 2014), and conveyed a messaged of coexistence, moderation and peace to the citizens of the region in light of the security situation. President Peres thanked Pope Francis who his involvement and concern and said, "Right now there is fire, we are trying to do as much as we can to lower the flames because we do not consider the people of Gaza as enemies. I know that the people of Gaza themselves didn't decide on this situation that they find themselves in. There is a small group of fanatics who are the cause of suffering in Gaza. Our operation is aimed to bring an end to two killing methods – the rockets from the sky and the tunnels from under the earth. We have discovered two tunnels which were supposed to enable them enter into the heart of civilian life and kill indiscriminately. Fortunately we discovered it on time and prevented the murder. Right now the main thing we are doing is to put an end to these tunnels and we are trying to see how to limit the confrontation, particularly with regard to the rockets which they fire at our civilians. I hope it will not be a long lasting operation and I can assure you that our people are careful and will continue to be very careful not to cause damage and death to innocent peoples. We shall continue to search for a road to peace in spite of the fire and in spite of the failure to have a ceasefire because finally the solution must be political and not just military."
His Holiness Pope Francis said to President Peres, "This is a painful moment; I am convinced that God brings us together in prayer for peace, and please allow me to say it’s a prophetic gesture which in some ways will mark the future path. It's true that actions on behalf of fanatics don't leave us anywhere; it's true that many innocents suffer and pay with their lives. But we have to move forward and insist on this path of prayer for peace. I believe in prayer, in the power of prayer and I believe in the hearts of men who are working for peace. I ask God for a quick solution and a political solution. I'm close to you with my prayers and thoughts.
President Peres thanked Pope Francis for his efforts for peace and said, "I thank you for your efforts for peace. The three meetings that I have had the pleasure to participate in have left a lasting impression. I know that there is still a long way and I know there are difficult situations but like on many occasions, crises may give birth to peace and a better time. Your visit in Israel and our prayer in the Vatican had an unexpected impact on many people and I believe it planted a small tree of hope in the hearts of many, which we have to continue and develop.
Pope Francis thanked President Peres and said, "I thank you for everything that you do Mr. President and I ask Gold to bless you very much. That he accompany you on the path of peace and please feel my presence close to you as a brother and as a friend."