Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Slams Illegal Takeover of Jerusalem Church Land by Jewish Settlers

Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. (Photo: Michał Józefaciuk, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem condemned the storming and takeover by a Jewish settler group on December 27 of its land in the Silwan neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

“This radical group has no right or judicial backing in their favor to allow them to enter or occupy the land,” said the Patriarchate in a statement.

The Patriarchate also condemned the fact that the raid took place with the protection of armed Israeli police and border guards.

The Patriarchate affirmed that this piece of land, known as ‘the red land’, is five dunums in size (around 1.2 acres) and has been leased to the Palestinian Sumrin family, from Silwan, by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem since the beginning of the last century.

The Sumrin family is still cultivating it to this day, it said, explaining that, “this intrusion is a clear encroachment on the Patriarchate’s properties in Jerusalem.”

The Patriarchate added that this incident represents “a direct reaction of the radical Israeli groups to the Patriarchate’s criticism of their expansionist practices that are being deliberately targeted against the Christian churches in Jerusalem,” made clear by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III in his speech during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Jaffa Gate on December 16.

World Council of Churches acting general secretary Ioan Sauca also called on Israel to respect international law and holy places in Jerusalem.

“We call for respect for international law, and we especially appeal to Israeli authorities to abide by international law, to restore and protect property rights, and to pursue justice,” he said.

“We reiterate our insistence on the duty to guarantee human rights, and the need for peace and decent living conditions for all.”


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