In a special appeal Wednesday, Pope Francis made known his worry and sadness over escalating violence in the Holy Land, while wishing Muslims a fruitful season of Ramadan.
“I am very worried and saddened by the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and the Middle East, and by the spiral of violence that is increasingly distancing itself from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations,” the pope said to the thousands of pilgrims gathered for his weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square.
“I express my great sorrow for the dead and the wounded and I am close with prayer and affection to all who suffer,” he said. “I repeat that the use of violence never leads to peace. War begets war, violence begets violence.”
The pontiff also called on those involved as well as the international community to “renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail.”
“God have mercy on us!” he said.
The pope then proceeded to express his well wishes to Muslims who tomorrow begin the holy season of Ramadan.
“I offer my heartfelt best wishes for the month of Ramadan that will begin tomorrow,” Francis said. “May this privileged time of prayer and fasting help in walking on the way of God, which is the way of peace.”
In his appeal, the pope was referring to recent violence near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip. Tens of thousands of Palestinians reportedly gathered on the edges of the fenced-off and blockaded territory on Monday in a Hamas-organized protest.
Such demonstrations have been ongoing for some two months, but were ramped up to coincide with the establishment of the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem
While some of the demonstrators were peaceful, others brought rifles, knives, and fence cutters and expressed violent animosity toward Israel.
According to the Washington Post, some of the protesters talked about their “enthusiasm to break into Israel and wreak havoc.”
“We are excited to storm and get inside,” one young man is reported as saying. Asked what he would do inside Israel, he said, “Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.”
“Two other young men carried large knives and said they wanted to kill Jews on the other side of the fence,” the Post reported.
The Post said that Israelis had killed more than 50 Palestinians in Gaza protests, citing health officials, but as Breitbart’s Aaron Klein has noted, the “health officials” in question are from the “Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza,” which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization that organized the riots. Hamas has a history of inflating casualty numbers to gain sympathy especially in the west.
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