NEW YORK – After an attack on Israel by Hamas and subsequent retaliation by Israel has left more than 1,300 people dead and thousands more injured, the U.S. bishops’ conference has called for a cessation of violence from all sides, and for Catholics in the U.S. to pray for peace.

“May all who love the Holy Land seek to bring about among all the parties engaged in the fighting a cessation of violence, respect for civilian populations and the release of hostages,” said Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, chair of the USCCB International Peace and Justice Committee chairman.

“As we pray urgently for peace, we recall especially all the families and individuals suffering from these events,” Malloy continued in the Oct. 8 statement. “We call on the faithful, and all people of good will to not grow weary and to continue to pray for peace in the land Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, called home.”

On Oct. 7, the Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that included both a land and air offensive. The assault began at dawn on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, and marked the 50th anniversary of the assault launched by Egyptian and Syrian forces in 1973 during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in a bid to retrieve territory Israel obtained during a brief war in 1967.

In a recorded message late on Oct. 8, Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Jonathon Conricus said about 700 people were killed and 2,100 wounded in the attacks in Israel. Israel struck the Gaza Strip – home to 2.3 million Palestinians – in response to the Hamas attack. Palestinian officials have said that more than 500 people have been killed, and more than 2,900 people have been injured.

Early on Oct. 8, President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, where he “expressed deep sympathy for all those missing, wounded, and killed, and pledged his full support for the Government and people of Israel,” according to a readout of the call. The president also told Netanyahu that “additional assistance for the Israeli Defense forces is now on its way to Israel with more to follow over the coming days,” the readout states.

After the Hamas attack began on Oct. 7, Biden called it “unconscionable,” and made it clear that the United States stands with Israel. He also issued a warning to other adversaries of Israel.

“Let me say this as clearly as I can: This is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage,” Biden said. “The world is watching.”

Malloy said the violence has increased threats to the Status Quo of the Holy Places among Jews, Muslims, and Christians “further dimming any hope for peace.”

“The world is once again shocked and horrified by the outbreak of ferocious violence in the Holy Land,” Malloy said.

“I join with Pope Francis in his call for peace and his condemnation of this widespread outbreak of violence,” Malloy said. “As he stated in his Sunday audience, ‘May the attacks and weaponry cease. Please! And let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people.’”

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