In an interview, the Vatican-appointed Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, cautioned that the ascent of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government has resulted in a deteriorating situation for Christians in the birthplace of Christianity.
Pizzaballa stated to The Associated Press that the 2,000-year-old Christian community in the region has been increasingly targeted, with the most extreme Israeli government in history empowering extremists who have been swiftly harassing clergy and defacing religious properties.
This surge in anti-Christian events is taking place as the Israeli settler movement, spurred on by its political allies, appears to be seizing the opportunity to expand its operations in the disputed capital, the Associated Press reported.
The worries expressed by Pizzaballa seem to undermine Israel’s public stance of upholding the freedom of worship, which has been enshrined in the country’s founding declaration for 75 years.
The Israeli government has emphasized its dedication to religious freedom and maintaining a strong relationship with churches that hold significant influence overseas.
Christians have expressed feeling unsupported by authorities in safeguarding their sites against targeted attacks, as reported by the AP.
The tensions have escalated after a recent Israeli police operation at the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, sparking anger among Muslims and leading to a regional confrontation last week.
Jerusalem holds significant religious importance to multiple faiths: Christians regard it as the location of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jews consider it their ancient capital, home to two biblical Jewish temples, and Muslims hold it as the site where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Minority Christians in the crowded Old City have long faced discrimination, which intensified after its annexation by the Israeli government in 1967. They often feel trapped between Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims and Jews.
Written by staff