“Unfortunately, the occupiers have turned the Old City of al-Quds and the streets surrounding the Church of the Holy Sepulchre into military barracks,” Archbishop Atallah Hanna said in an interview with Al Mayadeen.
He said the Israelis were preventing Christians, whether Palestinian or foreign, from reaching the church. “This is a blatant violation of the sanctity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of Christians.”
Israeli forces were entering the church — “the holiest site for the world’s Christians” — with their weapons, trampling on its sanctity, the Christian archbishop said.
Some priests had been beaten at checkpoints, he added. He called for help from all Muslim and Christian organizations.
“We shout at all of those who speak of freedom and democracy and human rights: ‘Where are you when these things take place in al-Quds, whether at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the al-Aqsa Mosque?!’” he said.
The Israelis, he said, are attempting to prevent Christian religious ceremonies in al-Quds and frighten people with their weapons.
“These are crimes that they commit in broad daylight against all Christians.”
Last week, Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds, using sound bombs and rubber bullets to suppress and scatter worshipers.
Some 152 fasting Palestinians were injured in the assault. Strict restrictions on mvoement have since then been in place.