Israel Accused of Launching 'Attack' on Christians in Holy Land

Leaders say property tax demand upsets status quo
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2024 8:21 AM CDT
Israel Accused of Launching 'Attack' on Christians in Holy Land
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa leads the Easter Sunday Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, March 31, 2024.   (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)

Leaders of major churches have accused Israeli authorities of launching a "coordinated attack" on the Christian presence in the Holy Land by initiating tax proceedings against them, the AP reports. While Israeli officials have tried to dismiss the disagreement as a routine financial matter, the churches say the move upsets a centuries-old status quo and reflects mounting intolerance for the tiny Christian presence in the Holy Land. In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, the heads of the major Christian denominations alleged that four municipalities across Israel had recently submitted warning letters to church officials cautioning them of legal action if they did not pay taxes.

"We believe these efforts represent a coordinated attack on the Christian presence in the Holy Land," wrote the heads of the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox churches. "In this time, when the whole world, and the Christian world in particular, are constantly following the events in Israel, we find ourselves, once again, dealing with an attempt by authorities to drive the Christian presence out of the Holy Land." Christians are a tiny minority, making up less than 2% of the population of Israel and the Palestinian territories. There are 182,000 Christians in Israel, 50,000 in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and 1,300 in Gaza, according to the US State Department. The vast majority are Palestinians. (Click for more on the situation.)

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