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Palestine: illegal Jewish settlers escalate attacks against Christian sanctities

July 24, 2023 at 11:31 am

A church in Jerusalem. [Mustafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Jewish Israeli settlers have escalated their attacks against Christian sanctities and churches in occupied Palestine. The latest incident was an attack on the Mar Elias Monastery and Church in Haifa just as senior priest Father Samer Zaknoun was being interviewed by Safa news site.

Zaknoun was on the phone with a Safa journalist to speak about the latest wave of attacks against Christian sanctities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, when a group of Jewish settlers “barbarically stormed” the monastery and attacked the church and worshippers. The attack was the fifth of its kind. It started with a small number of settlers, and developed into a mass assault.

The attack was preceded by others against the Maronite Church in Acre and a monastery in Jaffa, where Jewish settlers tried to take control and perform Talmudic prayers therein, claiming — falsely, it is said — that they contain the graves of rabbis.

READ: Israel settlers storm Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem

The rise in Jewish settler attacks against Christians is taking a dangerous turn, in terms of their number and type. There have been at least 40 documented attacks during the past few months.

“Christian churches have become daily targets for attacks by settler gangs, who are clearly taking advantage of the extremism shown by the Israeli political hierarchy towards Muslims and Christians in the country,” Father Zaknoun told Safa. “We are now seeing with our own eyes their storming of Mar Elias Church, and there is a fight, and the youth are trying to prevent dozens of settlers from storming it, and we are trying to bring the police before it’s too late.”

He warned that the Israeli government’s failure to curb these groups encourages them to take advantage of the situation and escalate their attacks, and thus erode the Christian presence in Palestine.

“We do not rule out the possibility that the [Israeli] government is a partner in this scheme that targets our existence, so that one day we will be told to get out of here,” he added.

All of Israel’s Jewish settlers and the settlements in which they live are illegal under international law. Israel treats international law with open contempt and is allowed by the international community to act with impunity.