Concerns mount as Palestinians target Christian religious sites

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Source: World Israel News, By Sveta Listratov, TPS, January 17, 2024

No arrests were made in connection to the vandalizing of Jacob’s Well.

A Palestinian mob caused extensive damage to a Christian holy site in Shechem (Nablus) known as Jacob’s Well on Sunday night, the Tazpit Press Service has learned.

Christian sources told TPS that Palestinians from the Balata refugee camp in Shechem armed with guns, firebombs, and stones caused widespread damage to a monastery in the compound where the well is located.

“Nablus is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which fails to help the Christian community and stop the disturbing pattern of violence against them,” Elias Zarina told the TPS. Zarina is the co-founder and community manager of the Jerusalemite Initiative, a Jerusalem-based non-profit that encourages Arab Christian integration into Israeli society.

The monastery’s keeper, 80-year-old Father Ioustinos of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate was not hurt, but was traumatized by the violence, TPS has learned.

Christians believe that the location of the well was purchased by the Biblical Patriarch Jacob based on the New Testament, which also refers to it as Well of Sychar. In 1908, work began on a small Christian compound which included a church and monastery. Because of bureaucratic and financial reasons, construction was only completed in the 1990s.

Local Christian leaders said that Palestinian attacks on their community and holy sites are all too common.

Dr. Naim Khoury, founder of the first Baptist Church in Bethlehem, told TPS, “It’s not something special in particular, there are many instances like this everywhere these days, unfortunately, even in Jerusalem. The whole situation is very unstable and people are frustrated with the situation. People should pay attention and see what’s happening. We know very well that no Christian would abuse a mosque.”

Zarina told TPS, “We know of no arrests that are made in such cases, nor do we see the Authority placing any guards in those sensitive locations that they know are under regular attacks.”

Zarina, who has been researching the Holy Land’s Christian communities said their population has been dwindling ever since the Oslo Accords brought the Palestinian Authority into power.

Citing Bethlehem as an example, he said that in 1993, when the accords were signed, Christians made up 88 percent of the city’s population. Three decades later, Christians now make up just 12 percent of Bethlehem’s population of roughly 29,000. He told TPS that most Christians have emigrated in the face of Muslim extortion.

“It’s not very hard to understand,” Zarina said. “In Islam, both Christians and Jews are heretics and need to be dealt with, mostly with violence.”