Churches in Jerusalem have embarked on a week of prayers dedicated to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that some observers fear may escalate into a new Middle East war.

Warning that "hatred and a desire for revenge is rampant on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian," the church leaders issued an appeal to "all our people, throughout this land, to join us in intensifying our prayers for peace, with justice, and reconciliation."

The week of prayer was launched as Israeli military planners began predicting that the current conflict with the Palestinians might last for years and could escalate into a Middle East war.

Nearly 700 people have been killed since the outbreak of the current violence last September.

"We are greatly concerned at the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Territories of the Holy Land," the appeal said. "Many families have been made homeless; [road] closures have turned towns and cities into detention camps; the number of unemployed has risen dramatically resulting in tens of thousands hungry for the daily bread; whilst our children are confronted daily with a picture of bloodshed, violence, assassinations and murder."

The church services are running from August 15 to 28. Each evening, a service dedicated to prayers for peace is being held in a different church.

Church of Scotland minister Clarens Musgrave, of St Andrews Church in Jerusalem, said the rationale for the week of prayers was clear.

"Christians need to be involved and one of the things they can be doing is praying about the current situation," he said.

Not only those present are encouraged to pray. Church leaders appealed to "brothers and sisters around the world, many of whom have already offered generous support, to link their prayers with ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.