Pope Prays for Peace in the Holy Land Amid Escalating Violence

The Holy Father asked Christians to pray that all sides in Israel and Palestine have the ‘strength of spirit’ to resist the temptation to hatred and revenge.

(photo: Alan Holdren/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — Amid escalating violence in Israel and Palestine, following multiple knife attacks this weekend, Pope Francis has appealed for courage and strength in bringing an end to violence and the desire for revenge.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I follow with great concern the situation of strong tension and violence afflicting the Holy Land,” the Pope said Oct. 18, before leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer.

“At this time, great courage and strength of spirit is needed in order to say No to hate and revenge and to accomplish gestures of peace,” he said.

Francis asked pilgrims to pray, “so that God reinforces everyone, government leaders and citizens, with the courage to oppose violence and make concrete steps of distention.”

“In the current context of the Middle East, it’s more crucial than ever to make peace in the Holy Land: This is what God and the good of humanity asks of us,” the Pope added.

The Pope’s plea came after he celebrated Mass for the canonization of four new saints, including Italian priest Father Vincent Grossi, Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception and married couple Louis and Zelie Martin, who are the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Violence and tensions in Gaza and the West Bank have spiked in the month of October, leaving seven Israelis dead as a result of attacks by Palestinians with either knives, guns or cars, CNN reports.

The region has been wracked with increasing tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and new admissions that the peace process and the future of a Palestinian state is deadlocked. Palestinians number close to 4.5 million in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas administered by Jordan until Israel seized them in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Both the status of East Jerusalem, and Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law, are unresolved major obstacles in the peace process.

Additionally, 44 Palestinians have been killed this month in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, including those who carried out the attacks.

Protesters have also rioted in Palestinian territories, throwing rocks, which at times has prompted Israeli security forces to open fire.

On Friday, five Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Five other Palestinians, most of them teens, carried out knife attacks Saturday in the cities of Hebron, Jerusalem and Qalandia. In four of the five cases, the attackers were shot and killed.

The weekend’s incidents add to the more than 1,770 injured either by live fire or rubber bullets in the month of October alone, according to al-Najjar.


Register staff contributed to this report.