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Palestinian Israeli conflict

Pope Francis calls for end to violence in Jerusalem

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Pope Francis on Sunday called for an end to violence in annexed east Jerusalem, where clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police have left scores of Palestinians injured.

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After delivering his Regina Caeli prayer from the window overlooking St Peter’s Square, the pope said he was “following with particular concern the events that are happening in Jerusalem”.

“I pray so that this might be a place of encounter and not violent clashes, a place of prayer and of peace,” he said.

“I invite everyone to seek shared resolutions so that the multi-religious identity and multi-culture of the holy city might be respected and so that fraternity might prevail.

“Violence only generates violence. Let’s stop these clashes.”

Tensions ran high Sunday in east Jerusalem after hundreds of Palestinians were wounded in a weekend of clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces, sparking global concern that the unrest could spread further.

Israeli border policemen speak to a Jewish settler resident near the entrance to his home during clashes amid ongoing tension ahead of an upcoming court hearing in an Israeli-Palestinian land-ownership dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem May 3, 2021. (Reuters)
Israeli border policemen speak to a Jewish settler resident near the entrance to his home during clashes amid ongoing tension ahead of an upcoming court hearing in an Israeli-Palestinian land-ownership dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem May 3, 2021. (Reuters)

The violence around Jerusalem’s revered al-Aqsa mosque compound and the Old City, mostly at night, is the worst since 2017, fueled by a years-long bid by Jewish settlers to take over Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem.

The pope also offered his prayers for the victims of the attack on Saturday on a school in Kabul, describing it as “an inhumane action that killed many girls as they were leaving school.”

“Let us pray for all of them and for their families, and that God might grant peace to Afghanistan,” he said.

An injured school student is transported to a hospital after a bomb explosion near a school in west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 8, 2021. A bomb exploded near a school in west Kabul on Saturday, killing several people, many them young students, an Afghan government spokesmen said. (AP)
An injured school student is transported to a hospital after a bomb explosion near a school in west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 8, 2021. A bomb exploded near a school in west Kabul on Saturday, killing several people, many them young students, an Afghan government spokesmen said. (AP)

A series of blasts outside the school during a peak holiday shopping period killed more than 50 people, mostly girl students, and wounded over 100 in Dasht-e-Barchi, a west Kabul suburb populated mostly by Hazara Shiites.

Finally, the Argentine pontiff offered some words for a small crowd of people bearing Colombian flags who had come to St Peter’s Square hoping for some reference to the demonstrations and clashes in their country.

“I would also like to express my concern for the tension and violent clashes in Colombia which have left many wounded. There are many Colombians here, let’s pray for your country,” he said.

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