Pope Francis Calls for 'Moderation and Dialogue' Amid Temple Mount Violence

Francis tells faithfuls in St. Peter's Square that he has followed 'with trepidation the grave tensions and violence' unleashed at the holy site

Pope Francis blesses the crowd attending the Angelus prayer in St Peter's square at the Vatican, July 23, 2017.

Pope Francis appealed for moderation on Sunday amid a wave of violence that has broken out between Israel and the Palestinians over Jerusalem's Temple Mount.

Francis told faithfuls in St. Peter's Square that he has followed "with trepidation the grave tensions and violence" unleashed at the compound.

Francis said: "I feel the need to express a distressed appeal for moderation and dialogue." He invited others to pray with him so people would aim for reconciliation and peace.

The tensions started after three Israeli Arabs opened fire at the holy site on July 14, killing two Israeli police officers.

Following the attack, Israeli police forces installed metal detectors at the entrance of the Temple Mount. The police then ordered the compound's closure to the public and announced the cancellation of Friday prayers, the first such cancellation in years.

There has been unrest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank ever since. 

On Friday, a Palestinian man stabbed a father and his adult children to death in their home in the Israeli settlement of Halamish in the West Bank. In the wake of the stabbing, Israel deployed thousands of additional troops across the West Bank.

Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces on Friday, two of them in East Jerusalem and a third in nearby Abu Dis. The Palestinian Health Ministry announced on Saturday that a 23-year-old Palestinian had died of gunshot wounds to his chest, which he suffered during clashes with Israeli forces in the town of Al-Eizariya, north of Abu Dis. The Red Crescent Society reported that 391 Palestinians have been injured in demonstrations and clashes.