Church leaders claim priests are being verbally abused and spat at while property is being vandalised in ancient walled city
Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City say their presence at the geographical heart of their faith is under threat from intimidation and aggressive property acquisition by hardline Jewish settlers.
According to Church leaders, priests are being verbally abused and spat at, and property vandalised.
The churches say they are facing onslaught on three fronts: a war of attrition waged by hardline settlers; unprecedented tax demands by Jerusalem city council; and a proposal to allow the expropriation of church land sold to private developers.
Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem and the most senior Christian leader in the Holy Land, told the Guardian: “Today the church faces a most severe threat at the hands of certain settler groups. The settlers are persistent in their attempts to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
“These radical settler groups are highly organised. Over the last years we have witnessed the desecration and vandalism of an unprecedented number of churches and holy sites and receive growing numbers of reports from priests and local worshippers who have been assaulted and attacked.
“Where the authorities are concerned, this behaviour goes largely unchecked and unpunished.”