Today at 8:30 in the morning, a radical Jew entered the Church of the Flagellation, which is the first stop on the Via Dolorosa, in the Old City of Jerusalem. The man tore down the statue of Jesus and defaced the face of the statue. After he was immobilised by the shrine’s door keeper, the police arrived and arrested him.
This is the fifth incident that has occurred in recent weeks. Just last week, some tourists were attacked by a group of religious Jews who entered the New Gate. They committed acts of vandalism at the New Gate, near the headquarters of the Custody of the Holy Land, throwing chairs, tables and glasses and transforming the Christian quarter into a battlefield.
About two weeks ago, a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem was vandalized. Also “Death to Christians” graffiti was written on the walls of a monastery in the Armenian quarter and premises used as a church in the Maronite center of Ma’alot were vandalized.
We follow with concern and strongly condemn this growing succession of serious acts of hatred and violence against the Christian community in Israel. It is no coincidence that the legitimization of discrimination and violence in public opinion and in the current Israeli political environment also translates into acts of hatred and violence against the Christian community.
We expect and demand that the Israeli government and law enforcement agencies act decisively to guarantee security for all communities, to guarantee the protection of religious minorities and to eradicate religious fanaticism. We specifically refer to these serious incidents of intolerance, crimes of hatred, and vandalism directed against Christians in Israel.
Fr. Francesco PATTON, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land
Fr. Alberto Joan PARI, OFM, Secretary of the Holy Land