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Churches denounce Israel violence against Christians

May 12, 2013 1:26 P.M. (Updated: May 13, 2013 6:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Patriarchs and heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem on Sunday released a joint statement denouncing attacks by Israeli police officers on worshipers and pilgrims during Holy Saturday at the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

Signatories of the statement highlighted that they saw “awful scenes of the brutal treatment to clerics, average people and pilgrims in Jerusalem during Holy Saturday.”

They added: “A day of joy was turned into a day of severe sadness and pain for several of our faithful brothers who were mistreated by a number of Israeli police officers at the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.”

It is unacceptable, according to the statement, that clergymen and average people “get beaten brutally and indiscriminately and be denied access to their churches under the pretext of keeping order.”

The statement urged the Israeli government to denounce the violence that police practiced against worshipers and clergymen.

The patriarchs and heads of churches also denied claims of those who blamed the churches for what happened during the Holy week in Jerusalem. “These claims are counter to what happened in reality, and all heads of churches condemn the Israeli procedures and violations of the Christians’ rights,” the statement said.

The statement was signed by heads of all recognized churches in the Holy Land including the Roman Orthodox Church, the Latin Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Custodian of the Holy Land, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and the Armenian Catholic Church.

Israel apology

Israel on Thursday officially apologized to Egypt after Israeli police officers attacked Egyptian diplomats and a Coptic clergyman at a church in Jerusalem.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry summoned Israel's ambassador in Cairo after the attack during Orthodox Easter celebrations at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Israel Broadcasting Authority said.

Israeli police say they were not notified of the attack but that they will investigate immediately, the IBA reported.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Amr Roshdy told Egypt's daily Al-Ahram that Israeli authorities tried to stop Egyptian diplomatic officials from attending Coptic Easter mass.
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