Holy Land: In Jerusalem a group called “Islamic State in Palestine” calls on Christians to leave

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Posted by ACN News Board Administrator
In Jerusalem a group called “Islamic State in Palestine” calls on Christians to leave
By Oliver Maksan
Following the distribution of anti-Christian leaflets in Jerusalem, Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate called for people to be vigilant. “In some ways we must take these threats seriously. It would be enough that three young fundamentalists, armed with knives, attack a Christian home to cause panic in the Christian community,” Auxiliary Bishop Shomali told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need in an interview on Friday 3 July.

(Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem © Aid to the Church in Need)

In leaflets distributed last week in Jerusalem a group calling itself “Islamic State in Palestine” called on Christians to leave the city by the end of the Islamic month of fasting Ramadan on 18 July. If they do not comply they are threatened with death. The Arabic leaflets bear the black flag of the terrorist group “Islamic State”. The threats are reminiscent of an ultimatum set by the “Islamic State” in July 2014 for the Christians in the north Iraqi city of Mosul. Since the rise of “Islamic State” there have also repeatedly been declarations of sympathy for the group in the areas occupied by the Israelis. In addition, in this and the previous year Arab Israelis of the Muslim faith have tried time and again to join the terrorist militia as fighters. 

(The leaflet distributed last week in Jerusalem by a group calling itself “Islamic State in Palestine” © Aid to the Church in Need) 

Auxiliary Bishop Shomali explained that the Patriarchate had not itself contacted the Israeli authorities in connection with the leaflets. “But the Israelis are well informed.” “Among the Christians in the Holy Land there is anxiety about the leaflets, although only a moderate anxiety,” according to the Auxiliary Bishop, who is responsible in the Patriarchate for Jerusalem and the Palestinian areas. “There are threats. But if we compare our situation with what is happening in neighbouring countries, we still feel much more secure. We are not feeling panic. Former Patriarch Sabbah answered to the Isis leaflet that we are not afraid and that we will remain in the Land. His words gave peace to many people.” 

The leaflet incident took place shortly after an arson attack, probably committed by Jewish extremists, on the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha (Israel). The church and monastery were in parts severely damaged by fire in the middle of June. Thousands of Arab Christians living in Israel expressed their anger and demonstrated in Tabgha for improved protection of Christian facilities by the Israeli authorities and for greater equality. 

In Israel, including East Jerusalem occupied in 1967, about 160,000 Christians are living there at present. The majority of these are Arab citizens of Israel. The proportion of Christians in relation to the total population of Israel is about two per cent. 

(Auxiliary Bishop Gacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, responsible for Galilee region, visits the scene of devastation at the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha (Israel) © Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) 

Editor’s Notes 

Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. 
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world. 
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material. 

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