Pope Francis called for those caught up in violence in the Holy Land to have the “courage and fortitude to say no to hatred”, after fears weeks of unrest could turn into a full-scale Palestinian uprising.
“I follow with great concern the situation of tension and violence that plagues Holy Land,” he said during today’s Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square.
“There is a great need now for the courage and fortitude to say no to hatred and revenge and make gestures of peace.”
The Argentine said he prayed to God to “strengthen in all, rulers and citizens, the courage to oppose violence and to take concrete steps to ease tensions”.
“In the current context of the Middle East, peace in the Holy Land is more crucial than ever,” he added.
The 78-year old head of the Roman Catholic Church was speaking as Israel pressed ahead with major security measures after five more stabbing incidents and over two weeks of relentless violence.
The violence began on October 1, when a suspected cell of the Islamist movement Hamas murdered a Jewish settler couple in the West Bank in front of their children.
The attack followed repeated clashes in September between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths at east Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Including alleged assailants, 41 Palestinians have been killed since the upsurge in violence, while seven Israelis have lost their lives.