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Israel: Anti-Christian Incidents Condemned

Around 16,000 Christians live in Jerusalem, comprising 1.7% of the population. Slightly less than one-third of these are Greek Orthodox Christians of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they prosper who love you! Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!” (Psalm 122:6-7)

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Israel, see here.

“Anti-Christian Incidents in Israel Condemned,” Morning Star News, October 9, 2023:

(Morning Star News) – The uptick in anti-Christian acts in Israel that began last December continued last week when police arrested five suspects accused of harassing Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Four adults and one minor were arrested Wednesday (Oct. 4), charged with assault for allegedly spitting at Christians and their sacred sites in Jerusalem, according to police and Israeli media sources.

The incidents took place during Sukkot, the week-long Jewish “Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles),” with the alleged harassment taking place against Christians celebrating the holiday. Several thousand Christian tourists were in the city to celebrate their version of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The first known incident occurred on Monday (Oct. 2) when a group of foreign pilgrims exited a church building with a large, red, wooden cross to begin a procession through the Old City, as passing Orthodox Jews spat on them or at their feet, according to local media reports.

In a video of the interaction that surfaced online shortly after the incident, at least seven Orthodox Jews in dark suits, along with small children, can be seen spitting on the ground beside the group of Christians.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman said in a press statement that continued harassment of Christians in the Old City was a “shameful and ugly phenomenon.” He said officers in the Old City have redoubled their focus on stopping such attacks.

“We will not tolerate expressions of hatred towards anyone, whether Jews, Muslims or Christians, in the Old City and anywhere else in Jerusalem,” Turgeman said. “Violence and hatred, however they manifest, are unacceptable.”

But Elisha Yered, an ultranationalist leader in Israel’s settler movement, defended the accused. He wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that spitting at Christian clergy members and at churches was an “ancient Jewish custom.”

Yered made the statement while under house arrest for his alleged involvement in the politically motivated killing of a 19-year-old Palestinian man.

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s Minister of National Security, said on Army Radio that spitting at Christians was “not a criminal case.” Like Yered, Ben Gvir had previously defended the act of spitting on Christians as a Jewish custom….

The tension during Sukkot wasn’t limited to spitting. A group of around 50 ultra-Orthodox Jews protested against the Christians’ celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem on Tuesday night (Oct. 3). The protestors, mostly adolescent boys and children, were cordoned off behind police barricades on a street corner opposite Jerusalem’s Pais Arena, where the event was held….

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