The president of Israel has met Catholic leaders to draw attention to the rise in attacks against clergy and followers of Christ.
Isaac Herzog met clerics at Haifa’s Stella Maris monastery, where he said: “In recent months, we have witnessed extremely serious phenomena in the treatment of members of Christian communities in the Holy Land, our brothers and sisters, Christian citizens, who feel attacked in their places of prayer and their cemeteries, on the street.”
“It is entirely unacceptable in every way,” he warned.
Catholic clergy have been vulnerable to attacks for a long time, but recent months have seen a sharp rise in the number of attacks against people trying to pray within the Catholic complex.
It’s lead to multiple physical altercations, resulting in attempts to build a fence around Catholic properties, in order to protect both the buildings, and those inside.
Multiple incidents of vandalism have been carried out, in a situation Herzog said must be “uprooted from its roots”.
He was accompanied by police commissioner Kobi Shatai, who warned of stepped up and “creative” operations to eradicate a small group of perpetrators.
During the visit, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III implored the leaders not to turn a blind eye to the Catholic community. He said: “We need peace. We are people that promote the values of the Bible. We promote the values of mutual respect and freedom of worship."