Addressing tensions in Jerusalem, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, has said the situation is “fairly tense” but deems new violence to be unlikely.
The Israeli government recently decided to build 1,600 new houses in east Jerusalem. Islamic movements responded by proclaiming a “Day of Wrath,” leading Israel to declare a state of maximum alert and to close boundaries with the West Bank.
Masked Palestinians have hurled rocks at Israeli police and burned tires in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as a future capital, the Associated Press says.
Police fired stun grenades to disperse dozens of protesters at one site, while village elders helped end protests at another site.
No injuries were reported.
The decision to build has caused tensions with the United States as well. Vice President Joe Biden, who was visiting Israel at the time of the announcement, condemned the decision as “the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel.''
Speaking to SIR news, Fr. Pizzaballa said:
"The climate is fairly tense in Jerusalem over these days, but I think no one, here, feels like starting a new intifada, even if this phrase is starting to be heard around now."
The Custodian said there are no problems for the pilgrims in town. The Israelis’ decision to build new houses will not negatively impact those being built by the Custody of the Holy Land.
“Our project is for 68 new houses for Christian families and I do not see how this can be a problem. Ours is just a drop in the ocean.”