World

Top Catholic cleric in Holy Land condemns violence in Christmas message

FILE - In this  April 1, 2014 file photo Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah. The examples from recent weeks signal that disagreeing with Abbas and his inner circle comes at a price for Palestinians. Critics say that after a decade in power, Abbas has created an increasingly authoritarian system with little room for dissent. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

FILE - In this April 1, 2014 file photo Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah. The examples from recent weeks signal that disagreeing with Abbas and his inner circle comes at a price for Palestinians. Critics say that after a decade in power, Abbas has created an increasingly authoritarian system with little room for dissent. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)  (The Associated Press)

The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land has condemned violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his annual Christmas message.

In a Thursday statement Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal said "we condemn the Gaza war and deplore its dramatic consequences: killing and destruction."

More than 2,100 Palestinians died in this summer's war between Israel and Islamic militants in the densely populated coastal strip.

But Twal also condemned Palestinian attacks, including the recent killing of four worshippers and an Israeli security man during morning prayers at a Jerusalem synagogue.

After two years of relative calm, 2014 saw a sharp spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence, including the Gaza war and clashes linked to rising tensions over a Jerusalem holy site that is sacred both to Jews and Muslims.