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Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 29, 2023
Israeli security personnel work at a scene where a suspected incident of shooting attack took place, police spokesman said, just outside Jerusalem's Old City Jan. 28, 2023.

Pope Francis today made an urgent, passionate appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian governments, and to the international community, to find ways “immediately and without delay” to dialogue and search for the attainment of peace in the Holy Land.

He did so as he greeted thousands of pilgrims at midday on Sunday, Jan.29, and drew their attention to the violence and killings that have rocked the Holy Land over the past week.

“With great sorrow I received the news that comes from the Holy Land, in particular of the news of the deaths of 10 Palestinians, including a woman, killed by actions of the Israeli anti-terrorism forces in Palestine, and of what happened near Jerusalem on Friday evening when seven Israeli Jews were killed by a Palestinian, and three were wounded coming out from the synagogue,” he said.

According to Al Jazeera, the Palestinian Ministry for Health said nine Palestinians were killed in the Jenin refugee camp, including an elderly woman, and 20 others were wounded with live ammunition, four of them in critical condition, when Israeli forces raided the area, on Jan. 26. In addition, a 22-year-old Israeli man was shot by the Israel forces in the town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem. 

The BBC reported that seven Israelis were killed and at least three injured by a Palestinian gunman as they gathered for prayer at a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday evening, Jan. 27, at the start of the Jewish Sabbath. It said the gunman was shot dead at the scene. Israeli police have arrested 42 people since the attack.

“The sowing of killing that takes place day by day does nothing except close the few openings of trust that exist between the two peoples,” Pope Francis said.

He recalled that “since the beginning of the year tens of Palestinians have been killed in the gunfire clashes with the Israeli forces.” The BBC report that “since the start of January, 30 Palestinians, both militants and civilians, have been killed in the [occupied] West Bank.”

Pope Francis: “With great sorrow I received the news that comes from the Holy Land.”

Pope Francis concluded by issuing a heartfelt appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian governments and the international community to take action immediately.  

“I appeal to the two governments and to the international community that they find immediately, without delay, other ways that lead to dialogue and the search for the attainment of peace,” he said. His appeal reflects his deep concern, one shared by many observers, that the situation in the Holy Land could deteriorate rapidly into a wider conflict, given that Israel now is governed by the most right-wing government in its history.

The pope invited people to pray that his appeal be heard. “Brothers and sisters, let us pray for this,” he said.

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