ASIA/HOLY LAND - Jerusalem, Shrine of the Flagellation desecrated

Friday, 3 February 2023 middle east   jerusalem   holy places   extremism   sectaniarism  

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The series of attacks and intimidation that have been carried out in recent weeks against churches and Christian objects in the Old City of Jerusalem continues. On the morning of Thursday, February 2nd, a man - described by the Israeli media as an "American tourist" - broke into the Chapel of Condemnation on the Via Dolorosa and destroyed a statue of Jesus that had been placed there, first throwing it to the ground and then hitting it with a hammer. The man was immobilized and handed over to the Israeli police. Videos of his arrest, which have been circulating online, can be heard shouting that "there can be no idols in Jerusalem, which is the Holy City."
Information disseminated by the Israeli police and relaunched by local media links the vandalism to alleged psychological problems of the perpetrator. Meanwhile, a spate of intimidation attempts against people and places of worship have taken place in the Christian and Armenian quarters of Jerusalem's Old City in recent weeks, while the number of victims of raids, attacks and reprisals that have been reported for months in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel to be recorded, is increasing day by day.
The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, after the assault on the Chapel of Condemnation, issued a communiqué, signed by Custos Francis Patton and secretary Father Alberto Joan Pari, "to express concern and deploration in the face of "this growing number of serious acts of hatred and violence against the Christian community in Israel." The Custody speaks of "hate crimes". "It is no coincidence that the legitimisation of discrimination and violence in public opinion and in the current Israeli political environment also translates into acts of hatred and violence against the Christian community."

Violence and intimidation against Christian targets in the Old City of Jerusalem have increased since the new Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu took office, which is also backed by ultra-nationalist anti-Arab groups.
A large part of the recent increase of violence and intimidation has been directed against locations and residents of the Armenian Quarter. On January 11, the walls were smeared with slogans such as "Death to Armenians" and "Death to Christians." On January 26, a group of about forty Jewish settlers raided an Armenian restaurant near the New Gate and shouted outrageous slogans against Jesus. In the days that followed, Christian priests and laypeople were spat on and pepper sprayed in the streets of the Armenian Quarter.
Regarding the attack on the Armenian restaurant, the Catholic bishops of the Holy Land had issued a statement deploring "the violence" that "instills fear in shopkeepers and residents of the Christian quarter, as well as visitors", adding that this incident "is the latest in a series of episodes of religious violence directed against the symbols of the Christian community, and not only". Last Friday, January 27th, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, visited the owners of the restaurant attacked and the surrounding shops in a sign of solidarity.
The chapel is a small church building on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's Old City and, together with the Franciscan Convent of the Flagellation, represents one of the stations of the pious practice of the "Way of the Cross" carried out by groups of pilgrims who, during their visit to the Holy City, follow Jesus' path to Calvary during their visit to the Holy City. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 2/2/2023)