Though unreported in Western languages, another instance of hostility for Christians and their churches in the Holy Land recently occurred.
On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2022, a group of Palestinian “youth” assaulted a Coptic Christian church in Jaffa. After hurling stones and empty glass bottles at St. Anthony’s Church, they stormed it and savagely beat Fr. Michael Mansour, its priest.
While loudly cursing Christianity and personally insulting him, they pepper sprayed the elderly clergyman.
The same Palestinian “youth” proceeded to curse and hurl stones at a Latin church in the same vicinity.
Discussing this incident in a later interview, Fr. Michael, who has lived and been serving his Coptic flock in Jaffa for some four decades, said that he had felt “dizzy and short of breath” after being pepper sprayed, and had collapsed, but thankfully recovered. He prayed for peace and calm to be restored, and asked that God may shed his grace on his assailants.
During the assault, no property was stolen from the church or Fr. Michael’s adjoining home, suggesting it was a hate crime.
In a statement, Fr. Constantine Nassar, the head of the Orthodox community of Jaffa, said, “We strongly condemn this barbaric and tribalistic act and call on the responsible authorities to arrest and bring the perpetrators to trial as soon as possible, thereby making an example of them to others.”
An “example” is certainly needed. Although the few Arabic language sources reporting on this incident portray it as an aberrant act that does not represent Muslim/Christian relations in the Holy Land, the persecution of that region’s Christians and their holy places has, in fact, been growing (as documented in this article).
As of this writing, no English language media have reported on this incident.