Anti-Christian hate crimes carried out by Israeli settlers continued to grow in number with more incidents of Jewish settlers spitting on worshippers in occupied Jerusalem. Attacks on Christians increased over the weekend at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when tens of thousands of illegal Israeli settlers marched into the occupied city, fuelling an increase in religious hatred against Christians and Muslims.
Clips of Israeli settlers spitting on Christian worshippers for no reason were uploaded on social media. Churches in Jerusalem also confirm that the number of attacks on Christians is on the rise.
קבוצה של צליינים יוצאת עם הצלב לרחוב שער האריות ונתקלת בקבוצה של מתפללים יהודים עם 4 המינים ואז מתחילות היריקות. ספרתי לפחות 7 בכמה שניות. pic.twitter.com/YjqaknATLw
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) October 2, 2023
Referring to the spike in anti-Christian racism by Israel, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has said that these incidents are nothing new. “However, we feel that recently it has become more common.” The patriarch added: “It’s related to ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist groups and movements. The presence of these groups in [Jerusalem’s] Old City is greater than in the past. There’s no doubt that there are rabbis who approve or even encourage it.”
Pizzaballa also blamed Israel’s extreme far right government led by Benjamin Netanyahu for the increase in anti-Christian attacks. “It may be that some of these movements feel, not that they’re supported [by the state], but that they’re at least protected.”
He suggested that what’s happening with Christians isn’t an isolated thing. “We see an increase in violence within both Israeli and Palestinian societies. What we’re seeing with Christians is part of a wider phenomenon. Moderate voices aren’t being heard and extreme voices are getting stronger. We are in contact with the authorities and the police on this matter.”
Israeli settlers have defended their attacks on Christians by saying that it’s part of “an ancient Jewish custom.” One Israeli extremist, Elisha Yered, who is suspected of involvement in the killing of Palestinian teen Qusai Jamal Maatan, defended the spitting in a post on social media platform X.
“It’s a good time to mention that spitting near priests or churches is an ancient Jewish custom, and there’s even a special blessing in Jewish law that should be recited when you see a church,” said Yered. “Perhaps under the influence of Western culture we have somewhat forgotten what Christianity is, but I think that the millions of Jews who went through crusades in exile, Inquisition tortures, blood plots and mass pogroms will never forget.”
Church leaders have warned that anti-Christian violence carried out by Israeli settlers has soared this year. They have also complained that the police refuse to treat the situation seriously enough and to identify the growing list of violent incidents as a disturbing hate-crime trend.