Israel's attacks on Christians in Palestine on the rise
Attacks against Palestinian Christians primarily take form of spitting with intent to insult as well as physical violence
By Ahmet Dursun
Palestinian Christians, whose existence in Palestinian lands dates back more than 2,000 years, do not only face massacres in the Gaza Strip but they are also subjected to harassment and attacks in the occupied territories.
Israeli forces, which have destroyed the infrastructure in Gaza and targeted both churches and mosques, have killed many Christians and also carried out psychological and physical attacks on them.
Termed as fanatic Jews and encouraged by right-wing figures in the Israeli government, extremist Jewish groups occasionally attack churches in the occupied Palestinian territories. The inability of the police to prevent these attacks also draws criticism.
Leaders of the Christian community and churches in Jerusalem's Old City accuse the Israeli government of turning a blind eye to the attacks by Jewish settlers on holy sites, clergy, and the public.
In a speech in April, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vatican's representative in Jerusalem, said: "The Christian community is under increasing attacks. The Netanyahu government has emboldened those who harass clergy and attack religious properties."
Palestinian Christians, especially on the eve of Christmas, have been subjected to numerous attacks labeled as "hate crimes" and "terrorism."
- Attacks on Christians living in occupied territories
In recent years, there has been an increase in attacks by Jewish settlers on Christians, religious figures, and sacred sites in East Jerusalem.
Christian institutions and clergy accuse Israeli authorities of letting Jewish settlers carry out attacks with impunity.
According to a report published in 2021 by the Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli police closed nine out of 10 investigations into hate crime cases against mosques and churches between 2018 and 2020, citing the inability to identify the perpetrators.
Attacks against Christians primarily take the form of spitting with intent to insult as well as physical violence. While some Jews consider it “an ancient Jewish tradition bringing blessings,” others call it an “act that has nothing to do with Jewish laws.
Those who experience these attacks often hesitate to confront fanatic Jews who roam around in gangs and carry out attacks aimed at insulting and humiliating people. Those who express their objection either face physical violence or are subjected to tear gas attacks.
Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, particularly in Bethlehem, which is considered the birthplace of Jesus, refrained from celebrating Christmas this year due to the ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.
The historical city of Bethlehem in the West Bank did not adorn its streets for Christmas festivities as it had in previous years.
In solidarity with the people of Gaza, small figurines of baby Jesus were placed amid the rubble and barbed wires, representing the ruins, in churches across Palestine, including the Nativity Church built in the fourth century on the spot believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.
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