Hate crimes including vandalism and assaults carried out by Israeli settlers against Arab Christians in occupied Jerusalem have been rising sharply since the start of this year, Haaretz revealed on Sunday.
Church leaders attribute the rise of anti-Christian hate crimes to the rhetoric of the most extreme far-right government that Israel has ever had.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli troops do not take the issue seriously enough and refuse to recognize the growing number of hate crimes. Christians now feel that it is futile to report such incidents.
An Armenian priest quoted by the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre said that he has been spat on more than ninety times this year already, mostly in Jerusalem’s Old City.
“It is no coincidence that the legitimization of discrimination and violence within the current Israeli political environment also translates into acts of hatred and violence against the Christian community,” said Father Francesco Patton, the custodian of the Franciscan order in the Holy Land. “We expect and demand that the Israeli government and law enforcement agencies act decisively to guarantee security for all communities, to guarantee the protection of religious minorities, and to eradicate religious fanaticism. We refer specifically to these serious incidents of intolerance, crimes of hatred, and vandalism directed against Christians in Israel.”
Israeli forces denied the Christian narrative and claimed that all reported incidents are dealt with quickly and decisively and that suspects had been arrested in most cases, and charged in some of them.
RT pointed out that Christians made up 25 percent of Jerusalem residents 100 years ago, but are just one percent today. The number of Arab Christians in Jerusalem started to decline following the 1967 occupation, as Israel has since confiscated 30 percent of their land and stolen many properties through questionable land deals.