Israeli settlers storm St. Elias Monastery in Haifa twice in one week
Israeli settlers storm Mar Elias Church and Monastery, in Haifa, occupied Palestine amid confrontations with churchgoers considering these provocative and "barbaric" actions part of the Israeli settlers' attempted Judaization of Palestine.
At around 10:00 am, in Haifa, a bus carrying a number of Israeli settlers arrived at Mar Elias Monastery in Al-Quds and attempted to storm the church and take it over. However, Palestinian churchgoers fought back and forced settlers to retreat before the IOF arrived at the scene.
According to Palestinian media, this is not the first incident of its kind. In fact, Israeli settlers attempted to storm the same church twice. Wadih Abu Nasser, advisor and media spokesperson of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, was asked if there would be a framework set in place to defend the church and protect the Christian Palestinian community that attends mass there.
To that point, Abu Nasser said that the monastery is looking into "setting up gates around the perimeter, in such a way that when anyone storms or crosses over the gate, they can legally hold them accountable given that at this point the Israeli Occupation Forces has been, under the pretense on unclear perimeters, allowing settlers to cross into the monastery."
وديع أبو نصار مستشار لعدد من الكنائس في البلاد للجرمق: "نحن نخطط لوضع بوابات على كنيسة دير مار إلياس حتى نحدد ما هي حدود الدير لأن الشرطة الإسرائيلية تدعي أن هذه منطقة مفتوحة". pic.twitter.com/3vTTnP4XpB— الجرمق الإخباري (@aljarmaqnet) July 23, 2023
News website Arab 48 reported that around 50 settlers attempted to storm the church, including members of the Zionist 'La Familia' organization, consisting primarily of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish settlers, who arrived at the Mar Elias Monastery and attempted to raid the church and its premises but were confronted by Palestinians present in the church. Despite the attempt to resist the storming of the church, the Zionist groups were able to enter the church and conduct provocative rituals for about 20 minutes.
One Palestinian present during the incident said, "The storming of Mar Elias Church was not spontaneous. There is planning for this storming. There are no Jewish graves in this church. Their argument is invalid."
Earlier on July 18, during the first storming this week, and as reported by Arab 48, a Palestinian present at the scene stressed that "The attack on the church and monastery of Mar Elias targets our Arab-Palestinian presence in Haifa and the coast," and urged all churches, organizations, institutions, parties and national [Palestinian] movements to "confront and prevent the Judaization of the monastery and church in Haifa."
In turn, the Palestinian Al-Jarmaq news website indicated on Sunday, that "this attack is the latest in a series of continuous attacks on churches in Haifa and other cities, and these groups receive support from the current Israeli government, but the people of Haifa will defend themselves against these attacks and we will not sit idly by, and we will defend our Palestinian sanctities and landmarks."
The Islamic-Christian Committee in Support of Al-Quds and its Sanctuaries also condemned, on July 19, what it called “the barbaric attack” against the Church and Monastery of Mar Elias in the city of Haifa, saying that "the storming of the church by Jewish religious groups, holding biblical prayers inside it, and claiming that there are graves for Jews in the church constitutes an unprecedented and serious escalation and violation of the holy places of Palestinian Christians."
Moreover, the committee added that "The claim that there are graves for Jews in churches devotes pretexts to seizing and Judaizing them, and it is an aggressive approach that complements what they are doing in Al-Aqsa Mosque."