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Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas near al-Aqsa Mosque Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas near al-Aqsa Mosque  (AFP or licensors)

WCC joins calls for calm in Jerusalem as clashes continue

Christian leaders around the world are voicing calls for an end to violence in Jerusalem, as Israeli police and Palestinian protesters continue to face off for the fourth consecutive day.

By Devin Watkins

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is urging Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters to put aside violence in favor of dialogue and understanding.

Rev. Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of WCC, expressed the concern of the global ecumenical fellowship of churches over the worsening situation.

He also linked it to the threat of eviction many residents face in the Palestinian community of Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel’s Supreme Court was supposed to hold a hearing in a case considering the legality of eviction orders on Monday, but delayed it at the last minute until June.

Assisting Palestinian residents

Rev. Sauca expressed “deep distress at the plight of the Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah and at the unrest and violence that has ensued.”

He added that the correct response should be “not more violence, but compassion and justice for the Palestinian people affected by this unfair and unjust situation.”

The WCC has been assisting the district’s residents in their drawn-out court battle to keep their homes, which began in 2008.

Through its Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine, the WCC has even attended court hearings in support of families facing eviction.

What’s the situation in East Jerusalem?

Renewed violence broke out in East Jerusalem last Friday at al-Aqsa Mosque over the planned evictions.

It continued for three-straight nights and into Monday, which Israel marks as “Jerusalem Day”.

A Palestinian man helps a wounded protester
A Palestinian man helps a wounded protester

Palestinian protesters threw rocks at Israeli police, who responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

At least 180 Palestinians were wounded in Monday’s clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Over 300 people have been injured in the violence since last Friday.

Papal appeal for peace

On Sunday, Pope Francis appealed for calm in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

He prayed that the city might be a “place of encounter and not of violent clashes, a place of prayer and peace.”

The Pope also urged all sides to seek shared solutions, in order to protect the unique identity of the Holy City.

“Violence generates only more violence,” lamented Pope Francis. “Enough with the clashes.”

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10 May 2021, 11:27