01/30/2023, 14.10
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Jerusalem: Christian leaders against an ‘exploding, senseless’ cycle of violence

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches issue an appeal amid escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The risk of “further atrocities and anguish” will undermine “sought-after peace and stability”. Christians too have recently been attacked. A Palestinian man was killed this morning in Hebron. Netanyahu wants to arm Israelis.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem issued a statement yesterday calling for moderation to avoid an “exploding, senseless” cycle of violence, which risks causing "only hurt and suffering" in the near future.

The appeal by Christian religious leaders follows a flare-up in violence between Israelis and Palestinians that has already killed scores since the start of the year and risks sparking a third intifada, some experts contend.

“Such a state of affairs will almost certainly bring further atrocities and anguish, driving us away from the much sought-after peace and stability that we all seek,” reads the statement issued by the Christian religious leaders.

In the message, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches deplore a “regrettable situation” amid the “proliferation of violence that has led to the unwarranted deaths of 32 Palestinians and seven Israelis” in less than a month, which “seems to be self-perpetuating.”

The Israelis died in the synagogue attack last Friday, which was carried out in response to a raid by the Israeli military against an Islamic Jihad cell in a refugee camp in Jenin that left nine people dead, triggering unrest and protests across the West Bank.

To prevent further violence, the Christian leaders call for a “robust intervention [. . .] by community and political leaders on all sides.” To this end, a "political process based upon well-established principles of justice” is needed to “bring about a lasting peace” wherein everyone will respect “each other’s religious faith” starting with their “holy sites and places of worship.”

The reference here is to recent episodes of intolerance, from the "walk" by Israel’s National Security minister, the ultra-Orthodox Itamar Ben-Gvir, on Temple Mount/al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf, to the attacks and provocations endured by Christians themselves.

The latter include the desecration of the Christian cemetery on Mount Zion at the start of this year, to last week’s assault by a group of settlers against residents and foreign visitors in the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops slammed this provocation, which ended only when the police moved in removing the aggressors but which requires a decisive response and sanctions to deter possible repeats and uphold the holy city’s sacredness.

For the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, “Everyone must work together to defuse the current tensions and to launch a political process based upon well-established principles of justice that will bring about a lasting peace and prosperity for all.”

The Christian leaders conclude their statement asking God to “grant wisdom and prudence to political leaders and people of influence” so as “to help us overcome violence [. . .] and work tirelessly to bring about a just and peaceful solution for our beloved Holy Land.”

Despite this appeal for peace and calm, a Palestinian man was killed this morning. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Nassim Abu Fouda, 26, died from a bullet wound in the head after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in Hebron, while driving near the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Over the weekend, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot at and wounded two Israelis near the Old City.

Meanwhile, Israeli police sealed the home of the man who attacked the synagogue while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to make it easier for Israelis to carry guns.

Despite the appeal by Christian leaders, Netanyahu’s decisions is likely to further fuel violence.

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