Angle down icon An icon in the shape of an angle pointing down. Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa in Gaza on June 14, 2021. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem offered himself in exchange for Israeli child hostages.He said he was willing to do it if it could secure the children’s freedom.Israel says that 199 hostages, including children, are being held in Gaza.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pope Francis’ representative in the Holy Land, said on Monday that he would be willing to exchange himself for the child hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa made the comment during a video conference with journalists in Italy, according to Reuters.
He told the press: “I am ready for an exchange, anything, if this can lead to freedom, to bring the children home.”
“There is total willingness on my part,” he added.
The cardinal went on: “The first thing to do is to try to win the release of the hostages, otherwise there will be no way of stopping [an escalation]. We are willing to help, even me personally.”
The Israel Defense Forces said on Monday that it has notified the families of 199 hostages that their loved ones are being held in the Gaza Strip.
The hostages, who were kidnapped by Hamas militants during the terrorist attacks on October 7, include the elderly, women, and children.
The BBC confirmed the abduction of at least 13 children, citing footage showing hostage-takers kidnapping young kids from kibbutzim in southern Israel.
Children were also among those who lost their lives at kibbutzim near Gaza during Saturday’s terror attacks.
The IDF told CNN on Sunday that the Israeli death toll now stands at more than 1,400 people, while the Palestinian death toll from Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza is at 2,670, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
In his comments, Pizzaballa said that his office had not yet made contact with Hamas to formalize his offer, because “it is very difficult,” Reuters reported.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.