Sunday, May 28, 2023

Christians in Holy Land Under Attack by Netanyahu’s Extremist Government

Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa warns of increasing attacks on Christians in the Holy Land due to Netanyahu's extremist government. Church leaders fear a surge in violence.

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Ali Tariq Shah
Ali Tariq Shah
Ali Tariq Shah is an experienced journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth and sharing important stories with the world. With four years of experience in the industry, Shah has covered a wide range of topics, from politics and business to entertainment and sports.
Christians in Holy Land Under Attack by Netanyahu

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has expressed concerns over the rise of Israel’s extremist government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that life for Christians in the region has worsened as a result. Pizzaballa has noted that the 2,000-year-old Christian community in the area has come under increasing attack, with the most right-wing government in Israel’s history emboldening extremists who have harassed clergy and vandalized religious property at an increasing pace.

The recent uptick in anti-Christian incidents comes as the Israeli settler movement, galvanized by its allies in government, appears to have seized the moment to expand its enterprise in the contested capital. Christians have reported that they feel authorities are not doing enough to protect their sites from targeted attacks.

Tensions have surged after an Israeli police raid on the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque compound set off outrage among Muslims and a regional confrontation last week. For Christians, Jerusalem is where Jesus was crucified and resurrected. For Jews, it’s the ancient capital, home to two biblical Jewish temples. For Muslims, it’s where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Netanyahu’s far-right government includes settler leaders in key roles, such as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. Their influence has empowered Israeli settlers seeking to entrench Jewish control of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, alarming church leaders who see such efforts as a threat to the Christian presence in the holy city. Church leaders blame Israeli extremists for most of the incidents and fear an even greater surge.

According to the Inter-Church Center, which coordinates between denominations, 2023 is shaping up to be the worst year for Christians in a decade. The roughly 15,000 Christians in Jerusalem today, the majority of them Palestinians, were once 27,000 before hardships that followed the 1967 Mideast war. Physical assaults and harassment of clergy often go unreported.

The center has documented at least seven serious cases of vandalism of church properties from January to mid-March, which is a sharp increase from six anti-Christian cases recorded in all of 2022.

Pizzaballa has warned that this escalation will lead to more violence, and create a situation that will be very difficult to correct. Church leaders are concerned about the future of the Christian community in the holy city, and have called for increased protection from authorities. The situation remains tense, with the potential for further incidents to occur.

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