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Isaac Herzog (centre) visits the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa on August 9 (CNA/Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Israeli president Isaac Herzog has condemned attacks by Jewish extremists against Christian places of worship in the country. Source: CNA.

Mr Herzog made the comments when visiting the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa last week.

“I come here on behalf of the entire state and people of Israel to reinforce our commitment to the full protection of freedom of religion and worship in the State of Israel,” Mr Herzog said on Wednesday. 

“In recent months we have seen very serious incidents against the Christian denominations in the Holy Land, our brothers and sisters, Christian citizens who feel attacked in the places of prayer, in the cemeteries, on the street. I view this phenomenon extremely seriously; it is unacceptable in any way. This phenomenon needs to be uprooted, and I am very grateful to Israel police and the enforcement agencies for taking this issue seriously,” Mr Herzog said, as reported by The Jerusalem Post.

Present at the event were Stella Maris Monastery abbot Fr Jean Joseph Bergara OCD, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Cardinal-elect Pierbattista Pizzaballa and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III. Israel police Inspector General Yaakov Shabtai also attended.

During the last week of July, dozens of members of the Breslov Hasidic movement clashed with Christians at Stella Maris in Haifa. Tensions were high when the Jewish extremists tried to storm the monastery and church.

Following several attempts, the intruders (many of whom were minors) entered the outer courtyard of the Carmelite monastery, where they disrupted people at prayer. The monastery has since put up a fence to forestall future intrusions.

The monastery was founded by the Carmelites who, since the 12th century, have gathered in caves in Haifa to imitate the prophet and saint Elijah. According to tradition, Elijah’s cave is hidden beneath the church’s altar.


Israeli president condemns violence against Christians (By Martin Barillas, CNA)