Dimitri Diliani, President of the National Christian Coalition in the Holy Land, spoke out about the increasing terrorist attacks against Christian and Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
Diliani said that since the beginning of the year, the National Christian Coalition has recorded five major attacks on Christian holy sites and properties in Jerusalem alone, as well as more than 80 other violent incidents.
Diliani condemned recent attacks, including the attack on the Armenian Quarter and the Armenian Monastery, the attack on shops and restaurants near the Latin Patriarchate in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, the demolition of historic gravestones in the Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem, and the destruction of a statue of Christ in the Church of the Flagellation (also known as the Chapel of the Condemnation), all committed by extremist Jews.
Diliani pointed out that the most serious of the recent attacks was on the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, and the attempt to assassinate the bishop while he was praying inside.
Diliani also reported 80 “physical and verbal” attacks on Christian religious leaders since the beginning of the year, all of which were captured on surveillance cameras. However, no Jewish extremists have been arrested in connection with these attacks.
As the attacks continue to escalate, Diliani added, condemnation of Zionist terrorism has grown internationally, with both the United States and the United Kingdom condemning the desecration of more than 30 graves in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion earlier this year.
In the face of such turmoil, Diliani stressed, Palestinian Christians are preparing to celebrate Easter, but he expects Israeli occupation forces to continue their repressive measures during the Christian holidays, including tightening security barriers to prevent worshippers from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, particularly on Holy Fire Saturday, the most celebrated religious day for Christians in Jerusalem which falls the day before Easter.
Diliani added that in previous years, Israeli occupation forces had suffocated Jerusalem, turning it into a military barracks and preventing worshippers from reaching churches. He emphasized that every year, clashes occur during the holiday season, and called on the international community to take action to protect the holy sites and the people who visit them and most importantly preserve the Status Quo in Occupied East Jerusalem.