Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed grave concern over the potential for a “catastrophic increase” in civilian casualties in Gaza and the looming risk of a regional war.
He conveyed these concerns after engaging in discussions with Iranian and Arab leaders on Monday.
According to the Kremlin, President Putin held conversations with his counterparts from Syria, Egypt, and Iran, as well as with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
He also planned to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Kremlin issued a statement highlighting that all leaders involved in these discussions jointly called for “an immediate ceasefire and the establishment of a humanitarian truce to provide urgent assistance to those in need.”
President Putin expressed his readiness to “coordinate efforts with all constructive partners to put an end to hostilities and stabilize the situation as quickly as possible.”
In this tense environment, Pope Francis’ representative in the Holy Land, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, made a notable statement. He expressed his willingness to exchange himself for Israeli children held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. This declaration came during a video conference with journalists in Italy.
Cardinal Pizzaballa stated, “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.” He emphasized the urgent need to secure the release of the hostages, especially the children, to prevent further escalation.
It is estimated that around 200 individuals have been taken hostage, with approximately a dozen of them being children.