By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — There is a need for great courage and strength in order to reject hatred and to carry out acts of peace in the Holy Land, Pope Francis said.
Before reciting the Angelus Oct. 18, the pope expressed his concern for the increase in violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The clashes between the two left at least seven Israelis and 44 Palestinians dead since the beginning of October.
"I am following with great concern the situation of high tension and violence that afflicts the Holy Land," the pope said.
"For this we pray, so that God strengthens in all — political leaders and citizens, the courage to oppose violence and to take concrete steps towards easing tensions."
The pope also stressed that peace in the Holy Land is crucial "now more than ever."
"God and the good of humanity asks this of us," the pope said.
The Israeli government has called a string of stabbings by Palestinians against the Jewish people as acts of terrorism, resulting in the erection of new checkpoints throughout the West Bank.
However, the Palestinian Ministry of Health called attacks by undercover Israeli special forces a "clear violation of the international law and international human rights conventions and laws."