Middle East Concern, 26th July 2023 (excerpts)
Members of the Christian community request prayer in response to growing concerns about opposition from ultra-nationalist elements in Israel. Two weeks ago, Israeli president Herzog acknowledged attacks against Christians are on the rise in Israel. Referring to these actions as “evil” and a “disgrace,” he promised to “put an end to this phenomenon.”
On 23 July several dozen Jewish extremists were transported by bus in the early hours of the morning to Stella Maris Catholic church in Haifa. The Jews proceeded to pray and maintain claims – incorrectly – that the church houses the tomb of Elisha (although the church is named for Elijah). Local Christians fear that this claim is being used as a pretext to establish Jewish rights over the church property. In the previous two months, there have been eight such visits with numbers of participants growing each time. Christian youth in the area contacted the police who removed the extremists.
In a video that gained international attention, the abbot of the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, Nikodemus Schnabel, was seen escorting the German federal minister of Education by the Western Wall when he was asked by an Israeli official to hide the cross he was wearing. The official is heard saying that the cross is “really big and inappropriate for this place. It’s a Jewish place, you need to respect that.”