Police assault clergy in Jerusalem on Easter Saturday

The following is a statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem in relation to an assault of at least one priest, who was seeking to attend the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Easter Saturday.

It is clear from the video footage one police officer placing his arm around the neck of one  priest in a chokehold and then wrenching violently back.

Eretz Zen, Israeli Police Brutally Attacks Old Coptic Christian Priest on a Jerusalem Street on Easter, Uploaded 7 May 2013

Priest held in a chokehold – moments before his head is yanked backwards and he is pulled to the ground

The priest who can clearly seen to be assaulted is Father Arsanios, the 85-year-old head of the Coptic Church in Ramallah.

The confrontation resulted in a formal apology from Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin on Thursday to Cairo.

In the global scheme of human rights abuses this one action by a group of Israeli police officers could be considered at the lower end of brutality (i.e. cruel treatment).  For example compare this action to the killing of Andries Tatane by South African police in 2011 (graphic video).

However, this assault by Israeli police against religious leaders serve as a reminder that Israeli security forces are allowing violence to be used against Palestinians with little accountability.

Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, ‘A Statement regarding police measures on Holy Saturday’, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, 13 May 2013

“We, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, watched with sorrowful hearts the horrific scenes of the brutal treatment of our clergy, people, and pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem during Holy Saturday last week. A day of joy and celebration was turned to great sorrow and pain for some of our faithful because they were ill-treated by some Israeli policemen who were present around the gates of the Old City and passages that lead to the Holy Sepulcher.

We understand the necessity and the importance of the presence of security forces to ensure order and stability, and for organizing the celebration of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Resurrection. Yet, it is not acceptable that under pretext of security and order, our clergy and people are indiscriminately and brutally beaten, and prevented from entering their churches, monasteries and convents.

We urge the Israeli authorities especially the Ministry of Interior and the police department in Jerusalem, to seriously consider our complaints, to hold responsibility and to condemn all acts of violence against our faithful and the clergy who were ill-treated by the police. We deplore that every year, the police measures are becoming tougher, and we expect that these accidents will not be repeated and the police should be more sensitive and respectful if they seek to protect and serve.

We also denounce all those who are blaming the churches and holding them responsible of the Israeli measures during Holy Week celebrations. On the contrary, the Heads of churches in Jerusalem condemn all of these measures and violations of Christians’ rights to worship in their churches and Holy Sites. Therefore, we condemn all measures of closing the Old City and urge the Israeli authorities to allow full access to the Holy sites during Holy Week of both Church Calendars.”

The Heads of Churches of Jerusalem :
+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
+Patriarch Norhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
+Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Aba Fissiha Tsion, Locum Tenens of the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Moussa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Bishop Pierre Melki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+Msgr. Joseph Antoine Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

 See also

Peter Kenny, ‘Holy Land church heads denounce Easter fracas, demand full access’, 12 May 2013

Jerusalem clerics slam ‘brutal’ police acts at Easter, 12 May 2013

Daniel K Eisenbudlast, ‘Church leaders condemn J’lem police ‘brutality’’, 12 May 2013

Christian Leaders Concerned Over Israeli Measures during Easter, 12 MAy 2013

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
His Beatitude, Patriarch Fouad Twa

Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, ‘A Statement regarding police measures on Holy Saturday’, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, 13 May 2013

Israeli police brutally beat an American Jew [Lucas Koerner] peacefully protesting in Israel, Uploaded 23 November 2012

History of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – Alison Weir

History of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
Published on Nov 21, 2012
By American Freelance Journalist – Alison Weir
Seminar at Case Western Reserve University, a private research university in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.  Alison Weir is Executive Director of ‘If Americans Knew’.  She is unfairly targeted by the ADL along with Mazin Qumsiyeh as ‘anti-Israel’, instead of being championed as pro-peace and pro-human rights.


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