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Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem Calls for Peace as Violence Escalates

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The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which serves as the Greek Orthodox Church headquarters in Jerusalem. Credit: Berthold Werner/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

On Sunday, the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem released a statement calling for an end of violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Currently, over 300 Palestinians and 21 Israeli police officers have been injured after clashes between the two groups broke out near the Al Aqsa Mosque and at Sheikh Jarrah.

Statement by Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem

The Patriarchs and Head of Churches of Jerusalem released a statement about the violence in Jerusalem on Sunday.

“We the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem, are profoundly disheartened and concerned about the recent violent events in East Jerusalem. These concerning developments, whether at the Al Aqsa Mosque or in Sheikh Jarrah, violate the sanctity of the people of Jerusalem and of Jerusalem as the City of Peace. The actions undermining the safety of worshippers and the dignity of the Palestinians who are subject to eviction are unacceptable.

“The special character of Jerusalem, the Holy City, with the existing Status Quo, compels all parties to preserve the already sensitive situation in the Holy City of Jerusalem. The growing tension, backed mainly by right-wing radical groups, endangers the already fragile reality in and around Jerusalem.

“We call upon the International Community and all people of good will to intervene in order to put an end to these provocative actions, as well as to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is the head of the Church; currently, this position is filled by Theophilos III. The number of Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land is estimated to be approximately 500,000 individuals; the majority of them are Palestinian.

Violence in the Holy Land

The most recent spate of violence in Jerusalem was likely sparked due to the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah during the holy month of Ramadan.

The violence has escalated over the past several days, with hundreds having been injured. Currently, the Palestinian Red Crescent reports 305 Palestinians as having been injured, with 228 of those individuals needing to be transported to a hospital for treatment. Seven of these people are currently in critical condition.

Additionally, the Israeli police force has reported 21 officers as injured, with three currently in hospital receiving treatment.

Most of the violence occurred in East Jerusalem, with its epicenter being the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jerusalem is a hot spot for conflict due to its holy status for the three major Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital; however neither claim is widely recognized by other countries.

The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem is headquartered at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The area has great significance as it is the site where, according to tradition, Jesus was crucified, and it holds Jesus’ empty tomb where the church believes he was buried and resurrected.

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