Following a violent incident meted out by Israeli Police during the May 4 Holy
Fire Rite in the Old City’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, against various
Egyptian clerics and diplomats, the heads of the Churches of Jerusalem condemned
Jerusalem officers of “brutality” in a joint letter.
It remains unclear
why the group of Egyptians was removed by police while attending holiday mass
there the day before Easter. During the melee, a Coptic bishop who was allegedly
beaten, briefly lost consciousness, and was treated at an area hospital. The
confrontation resulted in a formal apology from Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev
Elkin on Thursday to Cairo.
“We, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem,
watched with sorrowful hearts the horrific scenes of the brutal treatment of our
clergy, people, and pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem during Holy Saturday
last week,” the letter stated. “A day of joy and celebration was turned to great
sorrow and pain for some of our faithful because they were ill-treated by some
Israeli policemen who were present around the gates of the Old City and passages
that lead to the Holy Sepulcher.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said
Sunday the police are “looking into the apparent incident and are working in
coordination with representatives from the Church.”