Alarming images and videos have emerged from Jerusalem today of the unacceptable and excessive use of force by Israeli police on Coptic monks and deacons as they lawfully protested the execution of an order that contravenes a standing Israeli Supreme Court ruling on property in favour of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Coptic clergy, accompanying His Eminence Archbishop Antonios, Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem, were peacefully demonstrating at the Sultan Monastery in Jerusalem’s Old City, officially the property of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Urgent restoration work has been needed for some time, and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate had offered on numerous occasions to carry out the required work itself, but was refused. This work is now being carried out by Israeli authorities on their own terms, without the approval of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, and while preventing Archbishop Antonios access throughout.
According to the 1971 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, the Coptic Orthodox Church was given sole rights over the Sultan Monastery, but to-date Israeli authorities have failed to implement the ruling, giving rise to unnecessary dissatisfaction, confusion, tension, and violent and forceful behaviour against the Coptic community on numerous occasions.
This can be alleviated with the execution of the aforementioned standing Supreme Court ruling of 1971 in favour of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
With this alarmingly and escalating situation, we pray safety and peace for His Eminence Archbishop Antonios and his clergy and community in Jerusalem. We also pray wisdom, discernment, and true visionary and reconciliatory leadership for Israeli authorities, as they find a legitimate path through this now complex situation in the very birthplace of Christianity, especially as it affects a community that represents the largest Christian presence in the Middle East, continues to face persecution, is recognised and respected around the world for its spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, and has been a peaceful and contributing presence in Jerusalem and the Holy Lands for millennia.
Other resources regarding the history surround these events: https://bit.ly/2RdLCmU