Easter: Pope Francis prays for free access to Jerusalem holy sites
As he delivered his annual Easter message on Sunday, Pope Francis called for unrestricted access to Jerusalem’s holy sites amid simmering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
In his words, “May there be peace for the Middle East, racked by years of conflict and division. On this glorious day, let us ask for peace upon Jerusalem and peace upon all those who love her, Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. May Israelis, Palestinians and all who dwell in the Holy City, together with the pilgrims, experience the beauty of peace, dwell in fraternity and enjoy free access to the Holy Places in mutual respect for the rights of each.”
Ten protesters were injured in skirmishes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police on Sunday morning in and around Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which was the scene of massive disturbances two days earlier, according to police.
The newest tensions in Jerusalem occur as all three Abrahamic faiths celebrate significant holidays: Passover, Easter, and Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.
During weeks of rising tensions, Palestinians carried out two deadly attacks in or near Tel Aviv, Israel’s seaside city, in late March and early April, as well as huge arrests by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.