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.”

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