Jewish settlers illegally occupy Christian site in Israel

crime | Apr 22, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

A small hermitage and chapel built on a plot of land owned by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, near the town of Taybeh (20 miles north-east of Jerusalem) was briefly occupied by Jewish settlers, presumably from the nearby Jewish settlement of Ofra. The occupation occured on April 20. The settlers entered the hermitage and briefly occupied it and also hoisted the Israeli flag.

The hermitage had reportedly been unoccupied for approximately one year, after having been built by an Eastern rite Catholic monk.
 
Following a protest by local Christians and Muslims, the settlers left the hermitage.
 
On the following day, according to the Fides news service, Catholic Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, visited the site along with the mayor of Taybeh, a Christian, and the Muslim mayor of the nearby village of Deir Jarir, to listen to witnesses' testimony and concerns.
 
Bishop Shomali said of the meeting, "I went to tell the people that we protect our Holy Places, and we do not allow others to come and occupy lands, homes and places of worship where we have been for years and centuries." He continued, "It was more like a demonstrative act, put in place to see what reactions it would have caused. Maybe someone forgets " continued the Patriarchal Vicar "that the law of the State of Israel considers occupations of land and property of others illegal." 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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