This week, the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of Churches issued a joint statement on the evolving situation at Jaffa Gate. As reported widely by ICoHS and various news outlets in the Holy Land, radical groups have sought to take over church-run properties that are strategically placed at the entrance to the Christian Quarter in the Old City. In their statement, the Church leaders said that they see this “as a systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the Holy City, to obstruct the Christian pilgrim route and to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem”.
All of the churches are united in their commitment to safeguard the Holy Sites and in calling for the Israeli government to uphold the integrity of the Christian Quarter. The International Community of the Holy Sepulchre (ICoHS) echoes the concerns of these churches. As an organisation that exists to support and strengthen the Christian presence in the Holy Land, we fear the efforts from these radical groups could disrupt the peaceful co-existence and mutual flourishing of all in Jerusalem.
ICoHS has been following the developments of this case and its implications for Christians in Jerusalem since its foundation. ICoHS will continue to assist the churches as requested and will advocate on their behalf as appropriate. Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor developments regarding this case and keep our supporters updated.
This case is more than a property issue. These properties are being targeted because they dominate the pilgrim route into Jerusalem, and to the holy places, and access to many of the Churches of the Old City. Within these buildings are Christian-owned and run businesses that have welcomed faithful pilgrims for generations. As the world emerges from a global pandemic and lockdown, ICoHS hopes to see these businesses welcoming pilgrims back again, inviting them into the Christian Quarter and ensuring that Jerusalem remains a vibrant and diverse city for all.