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Israeli violations against Christians in Palestine 2023

  • List of violations:
    • Over the prolonged belligerent Israeli occupation, Palestinian Christians have been suffering from Israel’s discriminatory policies and practices, including illegal land confiscation, expropriation of properties, restrictions on freedom of worship, attacks on holy sites, in addition to persecution and harassment of religious personnel.
    • Since the start of this year, Palestinian Christians have witnessed an alarmingly increased level of hostility and attacks by extremist Jewish settlers, including physical and verbal harassment, vandalism and attacks on churches on a daily basis.
    • This year, countless hate crimes against Christians were documented in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. For instance, an Armenian priest in Jerusalem reported to have been spat on over 90 times so far this year.
    • From graffiti, that reads “death to Christians”, to cursing and violent physical assaults, Palestinian Christians, particularly in Jerusalem, are facing a shocking increase in attacks following the establishment of an extremist government in Israel.
  • Today, the 13,000 Christians of Jerusalem make up just 1 percent of the population of the Holy City, and suffer from systematic discrimination, that translates into acts of hatred against them, under the watch and encouragement of Israeli officials and forces. It is important to note that most of the attacks on Christians in Jerusalem go unreported. For example:
    • On the first day of the year, about 30 graves in the Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery were toppled over and vandalized by extremist Israeli settlers and have not yet been repaired.
    • In January also, Israeli extremist settlers attacked the Armenian Convent of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem and climbed the Patriarchate’s walls to remove its flag. Further, a group of radical settlers attacked an Armenian restaurant at the New Gate in the Christian Quarter of the occupied city of Jerusalem, and threw chairs toward the restaurant and those who had been seated there. The attack came as extremist Israeli settlers cursed and chanted ‘Death to Arabs’ near Damascus Gate in occupied Jerusalem.
    • In February, three extremist Israeli settlers stormed the Church of the Condemnation, located at the Second Station of the Via Dolorosa, smashed a statute of Jesus and attempted to set the church on fire.
    • In March, Two Israeli extremist settlers broke into the Church of Gethsemane in the occupied city of Jerusalem, tried to sabotage the properties inside the church, and attacked the priests during Sunday Mass while hurling abusive remarks.
  • Israel’s militarization of Christian religious ceremonies, and imposition of punitive measures through the combination of restrictions on access to churches, the subjugation of Holy Sites, and the brutal incessant violence inflicted on worshippers, violates the historical and legal Status Quo. For example:
    • In April and during Easter celebrations, Israeli forces attacked Palestinian Christians and filled the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem with blocks and barriers, allowing only small numbers of Christians to enter. They also obstructed traffic in Khan Al-Zeit market and assaulted dozens of worshippers trying to cross the checkpoints and reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Also, days prior to the Holy Fire Saturday, footage shows extremist Israeli settlers spitting at Christian nuns as they walked down the Via Dolorosa, a historical path in the old city of occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Attacks on Churches, holy sites and Christian properties, are a persistent occurrence, that is not receiving the appropriate reaction, locally or internationally, despite appeals, requests, and protests made by the Churches of the Holy Land. For example:
    • In June, an Israeli settler threw stones and smashed the stained-glass windows of the room of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, known as the Cenacle.
    • During the Catholic Pentecost ceremony on Mount Zion, south of Jerusalem’s Old City, about 20 ultra-Orthodox Jews blew trumpets and cursed loudly to sabotage the ceremony. Loud noises, curses and harassment is practiced daily by extremist Jewish settlers, particularly in the Christian Quarter in order to create a coercive environment for Christians living in the old city of Jerusalem.
    • In July, Two Israeli extremist armed settlers stormed the Orthodox Church complex in the Mount Zion area of occupied Jerusalem, spread items on the church ground and announced they would remain there. When a church official asked them to leave, the settlers started shouting insults and racist slurs towards him, telling him to “get out” of the grounds, and claiming, “Mount Zion belongs to the Jewish people”.

These attacks are not only directed at Christians in the Occupied Territory, but also target Palestinian Christians beyond the green line. During the months of July and August, the Church and Monastery of Saint Elias in Haifa -also known as Stella Maris Monastery- was attacked several times and the attacks are still ongoing. On July 23, about 50 Israeli extremist settlers tried to break into the church. Local Christians and Muslims protected the Monastery from the attacks while the Israeli Police did nothing.

  • In another incident, a group from a religious Jewish institute run by Rabbi Eliezer Berland were directed by the Rabbi to attack the same Monastery claiming rights to the place.
  • List of violations against Christians in August:
    • Early August: In a concerning incident, a young Armenian reported that Jewish settler attempted to urinate in front of the Saint George Monastery in the Old City of Jerusalem. The young Armenian intervened by pushing the intruder away to prevent him from insulting the Holy Site, leading to the intervention of the Israeli police, who not only defended the Jewish settler, but also detained the young Armenian for a period of 3 days.
    • August 15: Armenians in Jerusalem reported instances of provocation from their Jewish neighbours on their Facebook page. They recounted disturbing claims of their Jewish neighbours insinuating ownership of their homes. One of the Jewish neighbours reportedly told some Armenians to “start packing-up”, raising widespread concerns among Armenian residents of Jerusalem.
    • August 19: Israeli police prevented thousands of Christian worshippers from accessing the Mount of Tabor in the lower Galilee. This obstruction occurred during the annual celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration.
    • August 21: According to Wadi Abu Nassar, a group of radical Jews threw stones at the Angel Gabriel’s convent near Nazareth. A video documenting this criminal act captured the sound of stones hitting the convent, accompanied by the presence of young extreme Jewish men passing by and yelling in Hebrew, though exact words they used remain unclear.
    • August 27: On the occasion of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, a traditional march to Jerusalem by Christian worshippers was disrupted by Israeli occupation forces. They didn’t only prevent entry to Jerusalem, but also employed force and shot tear gas at the worshippers at Checkpoint 300, which cuts Bethlehem and Jerusalem. They sealed off the checkpoint until late hours, and the reduced the numbers of issued permits significantly.
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