By Vatican News staff writer
In a joint statement the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem have expressed their profound concern for the recent violent events in East Jerusalem.
“These concerning developments, whether at the Al Aqsa Mosque or in Sheikh Jarrah, violate the sanctity of the people of Jerusalem and of Jerusalem as the City of Peace. The actions undermining the safety of worshipers and the dignity of the Palestinians who are subject to eviction are unacceptable,” the statement said.
The past few days have seen the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, with confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Holy sites and in parts of the city, which, the statement continues, “violate the sanctity of the people of Jerusalem and of Jerusalem as the City of Peace."
The clashes came amid mounting Palestinian anger over the threatened eviction of families from their homes in East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers, fuelled by a month of altercations between protesters and police in the predominantly Arab part of the city.
The violence escalated on Monday night after Palestinian militants fired rockets towards Jerusalem. In response, the Israeli military launched airstrikes against militant targets in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian health officials in Gaza said 22 people, including nine children, had died in the strikes. Israel's military said at least 15 members of the Hamas group that rules Gaza were among those killed.
The Jerusalem Church Leaders’ statement noted that “the special character of Jerusalem, the Holy City, with the existing Status Quo, compels all parties to preserve the already sensitive situation.” It added that the “growing tension, backed mainly by right-wing radical groups, endangers the already fragile reality in and around Jerusalem.”
“We call upon the International Community and all people of goodwill,” the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem concluded, “to intervene in order to put an end to these provocative actions, as well as to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”