The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Saturday condemned the takeover of its land in Wadi Hilweh in the Silwan neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem by an extremist Israeli settler group on 27 December.
In a statement sent to mass media, the Patriarchate shared: “This radical group has no right or judicial backing in their favour to allow them to enter or occupy the land.”
The Patriarchate also condemned the Israeli occupation forces for affording protection to the extremist settlers as they raided and took over its land.
At the same time, it affirmed that this land, known as “the red land”, has been leased to the Palestinian Sumrin family from Silwan by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem since the beginning of the last century.
The Sumrin family is still cultivating it to this day, explaining: “This intrusion is a clear encroachment on the Patriarchate’s properties in Jerusalem. This raid represents a direct reaction of the radical Israeli groups to the Patriarchate’s criticism of their expansionist practices targeting the Christian churches in Jerusalem.”
It said that the Israeli occupation attempted to attack the land in 2008 when the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem tried to use it.
“The Patriarchate went to court, fighting a judicial battle against the municipality, only to be surprised that a radical Israeli organisation possessed documents linking this plot of land to the suspected forgery deal in 2004, which included the properties of Jaffa Gate,” explained the Patriarchate.
“The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem stresses its commitment to all its rights, properties and endowments, and it will spare no effort to protect and defend its rights, and it will not retreat from defending the Orthodox rights, which the Church and its people have adopted unanimously since His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III assumed his position as Patriarch of Jerusalem in 2005,” concluded the statement.