Pope expresses 'deep concern' over fresh Israel-Palestinian violence

AFP , Sunday 9 Apr 2023

Pope Francis underlined his "deep concern" over a flare-up in tensions between Israel and Palestinians, as he led Easter Mass on Sunday.

Pope Francis bestows the plenary Urbi et Orbi (to the city and to the world) blessing from the central lodge of the St. Peter s Basilica at The Vatican at the end of the Easter Sunday mass, Sunday, April 9, 2023. (AP)


He said the renewed violence "threatens the desired climate of trust and mutual respect needed to resume dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians," as he addressed a crowd of tens of thousands gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

This week has seen a surge in violence and unrest as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Jewish Passover, and Christian Easter coincide.

On Wednesday, Israeli police stormed the prayer hall of Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest site, in a pre-dawn raid aimed at dislodging Palestinian worshippers who were staying in the mosque for Ramdan prayers "Itikaf".

The next day, more than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanese soil into Israel, which the Israeli army blamed on Palestinian groups, saying it was most likely Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Israel then bombarded Gaza and southern Lebanon, targeting sites that it said belonged to Hamas.

On Friday, two separate attacks left an Italian tourist and two British-Israeli sisters dead, and several injured, in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

On Sunday, Israel launched artillery strikes on Syria in retaliation for rockets the army said were fired from there onto Israeli territory.

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