Sit-in held at Haifa's Mar Elias church to protest repeated attacks by Israelis
Churchgoers made prayers and condemned months of far-right Israeli raids at the Mar Elias Church on Mount Carmel, the most recent taking place at dawn on Thursday.
The gathering was organised by the Melkite Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Father Elia al-Abed warned that the church was being subjected to an "unprecedented and repeated attack" and the protest was a message to end raids on all places of worship.
وقفة احتجاجية بعد اعتداءات متكررة على كنيسة مار إلياس في حيفا ومطالبات بحماية المقدسات المسيحية. pic.twitter.com/MbAOEUJDba— الجرمق الإخباري (@aljarmaqnet) July 27, 2023
Translation: A vigil was held after repeated attacks on Mar Elias Church in Haifa, with calls for the protection of Christian sanctities.
A number of extremist Israeli settlers attempted to storm the church hours before the protest, claiming that it was a Jewish holy site and the burial place of the Prophet Elisha.
The attackers were confronted by young church volunteers before the police arrived.
Attacks against Christian holy sites in Israel, including cemeteries and members of the clergy, have surged in the past few years, prompting heads of churches to issue a call for international protection.
Israeli authorities have also placed restrictions on Christian celebrations before, such as during Easter processions in Jerusalem this year.
Christians today make up a tiny percentage of the native Palestinian population, largely due to migration. However, they make up a sizeable minority in the city of Haifa, as do Muslims.