The systematic targeting of Christians by the occupation forces should not go unnoticed
In 2023, the annihilation of citizens, both eager and deserving of a dignified life, including the local Church and the Christian community, is now a standard tactic of Netanyahu and his fascist forces.
The Zionist occupation, along with its lust for power, is systematically stripping the Palestinians of their legitimate right to self-determination. However, the occupation is not terrorizing Muslims alone. The Ben Gvir/Netanyahu combination at the center in "Israel", with the racist, bigoted, extremist ideology of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is advocating for the erasure of Palestinian identity by operationalizing crimes against humanity which also targets the Christian community. The Latin Patriarchate of Al-Quds was the latest casualty as it condemned the IOF’s unjustifiable crimes while stating that the city of Jenin was witnessing unprecedented Israeli aggression. A few can dispute this undeniable fact as events unfolding in Jenin and beyond constitute nothing but deaths, destruction, and desolation.
As terrorism was being unleashed on Jenin, the Latin Parish in Al-Quds suffered severe damage from IOF strikes. Photos released by the Parish underlined the scale of the destruction and further enforced the point that "Israel" does not adhere to "proportionality" in international law and targets an occupied population through religious profiling. This is evident in Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa's warning to the international community that there could be more victims of "Israel’s" senseless and barbaric acts if the issue of Palestinian statehood is not comprehensively resolved. The truth is that the Christian community's coexistence and solidarity with their Muslim brethren against the occupation makes them a convenient target for the IOF and its far-right government handlers who have employed violence with impunity.
There was also equal acknowledgment on the part of Patriarch Pizzaballa that the responsibility for the crisis lies squarely with "Israel" as it has been unable to address structural problems underpinning the entire occupation. One can clearly affirm that the apartheid entity in the occupied territories - which has lingered on for decades with innocent men, children, and women being unable to return to the lands from which they were forcibly expelled since 1948 - is one of the several variables that has contributed to the current quagmire. In 2023, the annihilation of citizens, both eager and deserving of a dignified life, including the local Church and the Christian community, is now a standard tactic of Netanyahu and his fascist forces. As a result, the Christian community remains a systematic target.
According to Father Labib Deibes, "Israel’s" onslaught in Jenin was characterized by explosions, tanks, and planes being unleashed on the besieged Palestinian people. It is noteworthy, that Christians make up 1-2.5% of the besieged Palestinian population in the West Bank and 1% in the Gaza Strip. Hence, any attack on the Palestinians will invariably affect the Christian population, which should not go underreported. Christians have suffered from Israeli occupation since their expulsion during the 1948 Nakba with the 2023 attack on the Latin Parish symbolizing decades of subjugation. The response of the international community over the years to provide aid to the Palestinian people was also critiqued by Father Deibes who stated that instead of doling out handouts to the besieged population, the international community should push for protecting the inviolability of Palestinian rights instead. This includes Christians, Muslims, and all ethnic groups residing in territories occupied by the Zionist entity.
In April 2023, a mob of Israeli settlers attacked the Armenian Wine and Taboon Bar in the Old City of Al-Quds while chanting ‘Death to Arabs…. Death to Christians.’ The Israeli police, known for their complicity in both bigotry and violence committed by far-right Zionists, stood by as silent bystanders. It took sustained pressure from the press, as well as an exposure of the lack of arrests from the police, for three suspects to be detained. A couple of days later, however, Armenians leaving the Armenian Quarter were attacked by Zionist settlers wielding sticks as the convent was pepper-sprayed and attempts were made to take the crossed flag down. Again, such acts of settler terrorism were actively condoned by the Israeli police who refrained from taking any action and allowed heinous crimes against the Christian community to take place with impunity. In 2023, without any consideration for humanitarianism, the Latin Parish of Al-Quds was damaged and desecrated.
These attacks, however, have not been triggered or are a product of Netanyahu’s far-right government alone. Historically, priests of all denominations have quoted discrimination, harassment, and terrorism from the occupation forces as witnessed in 2005 when military barricades and harsh treatment were meted out on devotees around Holy Week and Holy Fire Saturday. Worshippers were also prevented from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over bogus claims of "safety concerns". At the beginning of 2023, 30 Christian graves at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery were desecrated with spray paint on the walls of the Armenian Quarter reading ‘Death to Arabs, Christians, and Armenians.’ Furthermore, at the Church of Flagellation, a statue of Jesus Christ was attacked by a Zionist zealot.
The selective outrage from the international community must factor in these realities as the occupation forces continue to target the Palestinian population, which constitutes citizens of all religions living in peaceful coexistence. For the EU and the United States, being tight-lipped on condemning Israeli war crimes is already controversial, and ignoring crimes against all religions on occupied land will only "legitimize" the occupation and allow Zionist fascism to continue with impunity.