Vandalized Baptist Church in Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Custodian of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is responsible
for the care of Catholic holy sites in Israel, wrote to President Shimon Peres
last week, calling on him to urge authorities to prevent vandalism and attacks
on churches and Christian places of worship.
Vandals sprayed the slogans
“Death to Christians,” “We will crucify you” and “Jesus son of Mary the whore”
on the Jerusalem Baptist Church last week. A similar attack was carried out
earlier this month at the Monastery of the Cross, also in
“These shocking slogans sprayed on Christian sites of prayer,
especially in Jerusalem, hurt the feelings of all the Christians in Israel,
regardless of their creed, as well as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visiting
Jerusalem and the holy land, and millions more worldwide,” Pizzaballa wrote in
his letter to Peres, 186972
reported on Monday.
He said the Christian
community in Israel live “quietly and peacefully” and have ignored provocations
“throughout the years,” but the recent incidents crossed red lines.
comments made to The Jerusalem Post
, a spokesman for Interior Minister Eli
Yishai said the minister views any harm inflicted on the different religious
congregations in the country, “and certainly on the Christian community,” very
He added that Yishai will not allow such incidents to become
routine and will act together with relevant ministry and government officials,
as well as law enforcement authorities, “to eradicate the phenomenon and bring
the criminals responsible to justice.”
Speaking to the Post
Bishop of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories for the Latin Patriarchate
of Jerusalem William Shomali said the Christian community was extremely angry
over the attacks.
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Shomali said that a long-term program teaching respect
and religious coexistence needs to be implemented by the Israeli educational
system, referring to other incidents of vandalism and frequent spitting attacks
against Christian clergy, especially in Jerusalem.
“The people who do
these things are the enemies of the state,” he said. “The eyes of the entire
world are on Jerusalem, the city of three religions. Attacks on any place of
worship, churches, synagogues or mosques, must all be condemned.” Shomali also
called on law enforcement authorities to vigorously pursue the investigation
into the recent attacks.
The AJC’s Rabbi David Rosen, interreligious
affairs adviser to the Chief Rabbinate, said it is “vital that the State of
Israel does all it can to give the Christian communities under its authority not
only a sense of security in the present, but a sense of security for the
“Aside from dealing with assaults on Christian property and
defamation in general, there are many things the government should be doing to
strengthen the Christian presence here,” he added.
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