Church of Gethsemane in Jerusalem Church of Gethsemane in Jerusalem 

WCC joins appeals for better protecting holy sites in Jerusalem

Following a series of attacks on Christian sites in Jerusalem, including the latest at the Church of Gethsemane, the World Council of Churches joins appeals to protect holy sites.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has decried attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem and is calling for their protection.

In a statement issued in the wake of the March 19 attack against the Church of Gethsemane in East Jerusalem, the WCC Secretary General, Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay, made the appeal, joining in that of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The Patriarchate had strongly decried the attack by two men against the church, where the Tomb of the Virgin Mary lies, during a religious service. Its Patriarch, Theophilus III, appealed for better protection of Christians and their holy places.

The WCC General Secretary underscored, “We stand in solidarity with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and all those calling for protection of holy sites, and we reiterate our calls for such protection during Christian holidays and during all days of importance for all faith communities. 

“The WCC is extremely concerned about the increasing attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem and deems it necessary to facilitate a meeting of key religious leaders in the near future to discuss what can be done to stop these uncalled-for attacks on religious leaders, sacred places, and institutions.”

"This terrible attack – which appears to have purposely targeted religious leaders," he stressed, "is an egregious violation of international law."

This attack represents the latest in a series of attacks against Christians, churches, and cemeteries in the Holy Land.

Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged moves to curb violence ahead of Ramadan. The parties are to report back on progress in April, and emphasized need to prevent disruption at holy sites

Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, while more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have died in Palestinian attacks.

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21 March 2023, 13:10