Greek Orthodox Patriarch: Israeli Extremists Threaten Christian Presence in Jerusalem

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The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem has accused radical Israeli groups of threatening the presence of Christians in the holy city, Reuters reported.

In a column in the Times of London on Saturday, Theophilos III said he believed the aim was to drive the Christian community from Jerusalem’s Old City, which has sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“Our presence in Jerusalem is under threat,” the patriarch wrote in the article, published a day after the Greek Orthodox celebration of Christmas.

“Our churches are threatened by Israeli radical fringe groups. At the hands of these Zionist extremists the Christian community in Jerusalem is suffering greatly,” he said, adding:

“Our brothers and sisters are the victims of hate crimes. Our churches are regularly desecrated and vandalised. Our clergy are subject to frequent intimidation.”

On Sunday, an Israeli official said the reality on the ground for Christians was completely different from that described by the patriarch, citing a Foreign Ministry statement on December 22 that rebutted the earlier church leaders’ claims.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a 1967 war. It annexed East Jerusalem after the war in a move that has not won international recognition.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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