Palestinian attack on Christian holy site raises concern

“We know of no arrests that are made in such cases, nor do we see the PA placing any guards in those sensitive locations under regular attack.”

By Sveta Listratov | | Topics: Palestinian Christians
Palestinian Christians pray during Christmas Mass. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90
Palestinian Christians pray during Christmas Mass. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90

A Palestinian mob caused extensive damage to a Christian holy site in Nablus (Shechem) known as Jacob’s Well on Sunday night.

Christian sources said that Palestinians from the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus armed with guns, firebombs and stones caused widespread damage to a monastery in the compound in Balata village, where the well is located.

“Nablus is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which fails to help the Christian community and stop the disturbing pattern of violence against them,” Elias Zarina said.

Zarina is the co-founder and community manager of the Jerusalemite Initiative, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that encourages Arab Christian integration into Israeli society.

Read Israel Today’s previous interview with Elias Zarina: Meet a Jew and a Christian Making Peace in the Middle East

The monastery’s keeper, 80-year-old Father Ioustinos of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, was not hurt, but he was traumatized by the violence.

Christians believe that the biblical Patriarch Jacob purchased the well. The New Testament refers to it as the Well of Sychar. In 1908, work began on a small Christian compound that included a church and monastery. For bureaucratic and financial reasons, construction was only completed in the 1990s.

Local Christian leaders said that Palestinian attacks on their community and holy sites are all too common.

Dr. Naim Khoury, founder of the First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, said, “It’s not something special in particular, there are many instances like this everywhere these days, unfortunately, even in Jerusalem. The whole situation is very unstable and people are frustrated with the situation. People should pay attention and see what’s happening. We know very well that no Christian would abuse a mosque.”

Zarina said, “We know of no arrests that are made in such cases, nor do we see the PA placing any guards in those sensitive locations that they know are under regular attacks.”

Zarina, who has been researching the Holy Land’s Christian communities, said their population has been dwindling ever since the Oslo Accords brought the PA into power.

Citing Bethlehem as an example, he said that in 1993, when the accords were signed, Christians made up 88% of the city’s residents. Three decades later, Christians now make up 12% of Bethlehem’s population of roughly 29,000. Most Christians have emigrated in the face of Muslim extortion, he said.

“It’s not very hard to understand,” Zarina said. “In Islam, both Christians and Jews are heretics and need to be dealt with, mostly with violence.”

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