The Islamic-Christian Committee in Support of Jerusalem and its Sanctuaries yesterday condemned Israeli extremists’ repeated attacks against the Mar Elias Church and monastery in the city of Haifa as “barbaric”.
The committee said in a statement that repeatedly targeting the church to hold prayers inside by claiming there is a tomb belonging to a Jewish figure in its courtyard is a serious violation of holy places belonging to Palestinian Christians.
“The claim that there are graves for Jews in churches is a pretext for seizing and Judaising them, which is an aggression similar to what is being done in Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the committee said.
“This new allegation comes in the context of the repeated attacks by Jewish religious groups targeting the Christian presence, desecrating and vandalising Christian holy places, and attacking and spitting on priests and monks in the streets.”
Since Israel’s new government, the most right-wing in the country’s history, came to power in December, attacks against Christians in Jerusalem have become more violent and common.
Moreover, the cities of Jerusalem and Haifa have seen an increase in the frequency of attacks on Christian sanctities, warned Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land.
He told the Arab48 news website last month that he blames the Israeli government for the increase in attacks on Christian sanctities and symbols:
The incumbent Israeli government is spreading a toxic atmosphere, making groups of religious Jews feel that they are above the law and have immunity from punishment.
In the last five years, 157 attacks were committed on Christian sanctities, with the past year alone seeing 40 documented attacks against sacred sites, monks and nuns.
“There are almost daily attacks that include spitting on monks and nuns, specifically in the Old City of Jerusalem, and these cases have really become concerning, especially since their frequency has recently increased.”
Slamming Israel’s violations, the committee urged world churches to move urgently and push governments to take serious measures against the Israeli occupation in order to stop the targeting of Christian and Muslim Palestinians and their holy sites.