Terror attack on Church of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

Terror attack on Church of Gethsemane, Jerusalem March 21, 2023

The Church of Gethsemane, site of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary (Greek Orthodox) in Jerusalem was the scene of a frightening terrorist attack Sunday.

According to an eyewitness, two men entered the church during the Sunday service and began hitting worshipers and members of the clergy with metal pipes. Another source adds that in addition to assaulting those present, the men also “tried to destroy and deface sacred objects” in the church.

Several of the worshipers were able to subdue their attackers, and held them while others called the Israeli police – however, it took the police over an hour to respond, during which time one of the attackers was able to escape. The other was eventually arrested.

There’s a surprise twist to the story: if you assumed the terrorists were Palestinian, you would be mistaken. They were Jewish.

The attack last Sunday was not an isolated incident. In Israel, intolerance of non-Jews is, if not pervasive, quite common.

(Commercial: if you question “business as usual” in Christianity – or want to question it – subscribe to my newsletter, and we can journey together. I regularly write about the situation in Palestine and Israel.)

Jewish extremism: alive and well

For years, religious extremist Jewish Israelis have been teaching extremism to their youth; more recently, these extremists have found a home in the Israeli legislature. Today, they are in top positions in the Israeli government, where their rhetoric has led to horrific and deadly attacks against Palestinians.

The targets are not always religious, but the fervor behind the attacks often is. Case in point: when a Jewish mob of several hundred stormed the Palestinian town of Huwwara last month, burning Palestinian property and killing at least one, the group took a break in the midst of their pogrom to pray.

The following day, as Palestinians hid in their homes, a large group of Jewish individuals prayed in the middle of a Huwwara street. (The attack was carried out under the watchful eye of the Israeli military – typical practice when Palestinians are the victim.)

A statement by the Greek Orthodox Church after the Sunday attack asserted, “Terrorist attacks, by radical Israeli groups, targeting churches, cemeteries, and Christian properties… have become almost a daily occurrence that evidently increases in intensity during Christian holidays” [emphasis added].

(Read about other recent Jewish extremist attacks on Christian sites and people here and here and here – or a quick but slightly dated summary here.)

Christians need to know this

American Christians are notoriously uninformed or misinformed about the situation in the land we call holy.

This does not include all American Christians – indeed, many are not only well-informed, but vocal in their support for Palestinian rights. More of us need to learn the facts and take appropriate action.

Especially in this season of Lent, as we contemplate the death of Jesus, we should seek the welfare of the most marginalized, not cheer for their oppressors.

(If you are energized by challenges to the evangelical status quo like this, please subscribe to my newsletter! I regularly write about the situation in Palestine and Israel. If you would like to comment on this post, please pop over to my Facebook page. All of my posts are there and open to constructive comment! I welcome your thoughts.)


FEATURED IMAGE: “Garden Gethsemane, Al-Quds.” by ЯAFIK ♋ BERLIN is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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