The heads of Jerusalem’s Christian churches expressed “serious concern” over an escalation in tensions in Jerusalem’s Old City as hostilities remained high following the mid-July shooting deaths of two Israeli policemen and three gunmen on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
The Church leaders said they were worried that any change to the status quo of the site could “easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequences.”
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Franciscan Fr Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, were among the signatories of the 19th July statement.
Police believe the gunmen – three cousins, Arab citizens of Israel who were killed by Israel police – stashed their weapons inside the compound of the holy site for use in the 14th July attack.
“We express … our grief for the loss of human life and strongly condemn any act of violence,” the Christian leaders said. “We are worried about any change to the historical situation in Al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram ash-Sharif) and its courtyard, and in the holy city of Jerusalem…We value the continued custody of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Al-Aqsa mosque and the holy places in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which guarantees the right for all Muslims to free access and worship to Al-Aqsa according to the prevailing status quo.”
Picture: Palestinian worshipers protest in Jerusalem on 20th July because they refuse to pass through new security measures imposed at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound. (CNS photo/Abir Sultan, EPA).