Israel: Dozens of Jewish extremists attempt to storm Haifa church
A bus full of radicals attempted to enter Mar Elias church on Sunday, with hundreds of local Palestinians rushing to defend it.
On Saturday, a bus loaded with 20 settlers attempted to enter but the church was closed.
The settlers claim that a tomb belonging to a Jewish figure is present in the courtyard.
Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to various churches in the Holy Land, told The New Arab's Arabic sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that there have been nine "provocative raids" of Mar Elias, starting out at two or three people and then increasing in size.
"We said from the beginning if there was deterrence, the events would not have been repeated," he said.
"Our problem is not with these people but with the state that did not deter them."
Abu Nassar added that the grave of Prophet Elisha was not at the church.
"We have said time and again there is no grave. For us Christians, Elisha the prophet is very important," he said.
"If we had found his grave, we would have honoured it."
The graves present belong only to priests and monks, Abu Nassar said.
The targeting of Mar Elias over the past two months is linked with the election of Israel's far-right government late last year, said Alif Sabit, who is from Haifa.
"The group that attacks the church derive their strength from the extreme right," he added.
Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens of Israel make up a sizable minority of the population in Haifa.