Israeli grandmother calls on Pope to release Israeli captives

Varda Goldstein, whose son was killed and grandchildren were abducted into Gaza, pleads Pope Francis in a letter to make efforts to make sure they return home

Varda Goldstein, whose daughter-in-law and three grandchildren had been abducted into Gaza in Hamas’ attack on October 7, called on Pope Francis in a letter published in Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday to aid efforts to return Israeli captives back home.
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“Your Holiness Pope Francis, my name is Varda Goldstein and I live in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Israel,” the letter, titled “Pope Francis, help Jewish hostages” read.
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ורדה גולדשטיין בני משפחתה חטופים בעזה
ורדה גולדשטיין בני משפחתה חטופים בעזה
Varda Goldstein
In her letter, Goldstein described the massacre that took place in her kibbutz. “The kibbutz is one kilometer from the Gaza Strip. Our community numbers 900 people. Peaceful people, farmers and industrialists who support their families with dignity.”
“On Saturday, 7 October 2023, hundreds of Hamas terrorists broke into the kibbutz and destroyed, burned and looted all the houses. Sixty-one of our friends were murdered and burnt in their homes, including my 48-year-old son, Nadav and 20-year-old niece, Yam. My daughter-in-law, Chen, 48, and my three grandchildren, Agam, 18, Gal, 11 and Tal, 9, were brutally kidnapped by Hamas and taken to the Gaza Strip,” she added.
During his sermon on Sunday, Pope Francis urged Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement on a cease-fire in Gaza. “I pray you to stop in the name of God,” the Pope said, who asked to allow further humanitarian aid to reach the Strip and demanded Hamas release the Israeli captives, especially the children who “must return to their families.”
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האפיפיור אפיפיור פרנסיסקוס ב כיכר פטרוס הקדוש ב ותיקן הוותיקן בהופעה ציבורית שעות לפני שאושפז
האפיפיור אפיפיור פרנסיסקוס ב כיכר פטרוס הקדוש ב ותיקן הוותיקן בהופעה ציבורית שעות לפני שאושפז
Pope Francis
(Photo: EPA )
Goldstein also noted in her letter the Pope’s former words against the spreading of antisemitism, and pleaded with him: “I turn to You, Holy Father, most merciful. Please take action so they may return home safely. In these hours of grief and mourning, I realize my son and granddaughter cannot be brought back to life, but at least Agam, Tal, Gal and their mother, Chen, can be spared and returned to the arms of their grandparents in Israel.”
Pope Francis has previously spoken about the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, and last week told Italian television channel RAI that “the war in the Holy Land scares me.” He also reiterated that “the only solution to the conflict is a two-state solution,” saying further escalations will only lead to the loss of more lives.
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