The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem midnight mass worshippers in Bethlehem a loss of humanity and spiritual values lies behind the recent violence between Palestinians and Israelis.Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Hundreds of pilgrims and Palestinian officials attended the midnight mass at the Church of Nativity, led by Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal on Thursday (December 24) in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus. Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah and many other officials have attended the mass at the church. Twal, who let a cleric read his statement, called for peace in the region before starting the mass. "Recently, many painful incidents had happened in our beloved (Middle) East, and still happening here and everywhere in the world. We can assert on that we lost our humanity and our spiritual values. Being religious has become a reason for killing by the name of God instead of being a motivation for mercy and brotherhood," Twal said. Twal, made his way through the Bethlehem checkpoint at the Israeli built separation barrier earlier on Thursday, on his way to lead Christmas festivities in the West Bank town. Twal is expected to lead Christmas morning mass at the town. Since October, the region has seen a campaign of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings by Palestinians that has killed 20 Israelis and a U.S. citizen. Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 124 Palestinians, 76 of whom authorities described as assailants, while others died in clashes with security forces. The surge in violence has been partly fuelled by Palestinian frustration over the collapse of U.S.-sponsored peace talks in 2014, the growth of Jewish settlements on land they seek for a future state and Islamist calls for the destruction of Israel. Palestinians are also angry over stepped-up Jewish visits to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is revered by Muslims as Islam's third holiest site and by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical-era temples.