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Archbishop decries Jerusalem car attacks: 'We are acting like savages'

Banner a view of jerusalem with the dome of the rock and the wailing wall credit maria lozano aid to the church in need cna 5 16 14

A view of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall. Credit: Maria Lozano/Aid to the Church in Need.

A Melkite-Greek Catholic archbishop has lamented recent car attacks in Jerusalem, saying that such actions are inhuman and tear down society. “It is terrible not only here, but in Iraq and Syria, it’s terrible to see all of this suffering. We have not been created to kill each other this way. We are acting like savages, even the animals are better than us,” Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey told CNA Nov. 6. The archbishop’s comments came in wake of the second car attack against pedestrians in two weeks, as a Palestinian man reportedly killed a police officer and injured 13 other people on Nov. 5, ramming a white van into a group of pedestrians in East Jerusalem. A similar attack took place two weeks ago, when a Palestinian drove a van into pedestrians at a train stop in the same area, killing a baby and an Ecuadorian woman, according to reports. The attacks come amid continued clashes at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif compound. Known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Jerusalem, the area also contains the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock; it is among the holiest sites in all of Islam. Recent days have seen an increase in violent tension at the site, with young people throwing rocks and setting off fireworks, at one point causing the compound to be closed down temporarily. To kill innocent people like this is “not the way, it’s terrible (and) I’m very, very sorry for this,” Archbishop Zerey said. “I want everybody to work for peace, to love each other and to respect others. I’m very sorry when they are using this way to attack innocent people in the streets.” What all people need to understand is that peace is only built through love, humility and making great sacrifices for the sake of peace and the good of others, he explained, saying that both sides must do the best they can to make peace for the sake of their citizens. “Everybody from the two parts has to understand…I really pray every day for peace among all of us, and I hope we can really arrive to a real peace among all of the people.” According to BBC News, Hamas militants have claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a heroic act, and referring to the driver, who was killed by police, as a martyr. These latest car attacks fall just two months after Israel and Palestine established a long-term ceasefire after 50 days of bombing in the Gaza Strip, which left more than 2,200 people dead, most of them Palestinians. Amid the continuing violence, Archbishop Zerey called on those who have power to use it in order “to save the others, respect the others, to give human rights to everybody; human rights (and) love.” He referred to current violent conflicts happening not only in Jerusalem, but all over the world, saying that everyone must learn to respect each other, rather than persecute one another because they think or believe differently. “My Christian faith makes me respect the other and love the other, do the best for the other. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ came and gave his life for us, so we can convert and love the other whatever he is, whether he’s a Jew, a Muslim or any other religion. We have to respect each other and love each other.” The archbishop explained that he “cannot accept” what is happening, and called on citizens and government leaders worldwide to work toward building peace and respect for others, regardless of their faith or religious convictions. “I have to respect him, respect his human rights, but also to help the other, whatever he is, to live in his human dignity.”  

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