Photos of the hostages
Photos of the hostagesMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), on Wednesday responded to Pope Francis' meeting with families of Israeli hostages.

"The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling on Pope Francis, who met separately with the families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with relatives in Gaza at the Vatican, not to forget that all the loss and suffering since October 7th stems from the intolerable actions of Hamas," he said.

"Francis spoke about the meetings at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square: 'Here we’ve gone beyond war. This isn’t war anymore, this is terrorism,' Francis said. 'Please, let us go ahead with peace. Pray for peace, pray a lot for peace.'

"He also asked for God to help both Israeli and Palestinian people 'resolve problems and not go ahead with passions that are killing everyone in the end.'"

Rabbi Cooper continued, "While appropriate for Pope Francis to meet the families of hostages and people who are suffering in Gaza, it is important for one of the world’s primary faith leaders, for whom people of all faiths look to spiritual and moral guidance, not to forget that all those who came to speak and seek solace from him, all their suffering, all their loss, are on the hands of the Hamas terrorists who, on October 7th, inflicted in the most brutal way, the worst mass murder of Jews since the defeat of Nazi Germany and World War II."

He stressed, "Hamas could have and still could bring all the suffering to an end by releasing unconditionally all the remaining hostages, alive and dead."