Christian leaders in the West Bank have demanded that the Palestinian Authority launch an investigation into two attacks on churches near Ramallah and Bethlehem that took place recently, reports The Jerusalem Post.
On 16 May assailants broke into the Church of God in the village of Aboud, west of Ramallah.
The Holy Land Church organisation said in its statement that perpetrators looted the church, stealing some of its contents, without providing further details.
“We pray in solidarity with this church and for the repentance of the aggressors,” the organisation said in its statement.
“We also call on the responsible authorities to lay their hands on the perpetrators and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”
The organisation released photo evidence of the attack, showing damaged furniture and smashed windows inside the Church of God.
Pastor Abdallah Khoury called on the PA to take the necessary measures to bring the criminals to court, saying he was in touch with the authorities concerning the break-in and sabotage.
“The attack on the church and the stealing of its contents is very dangerous,” he said. “This matter needs to be taken seriously.”
In response to the incident, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said there was damage caused to a number of vehicles in the village and an investigation has been launched.
Earlier, on 14 May, Christians reported a similar incident occurring at Bethlehem’s Saint Charbel Monastery, which is affiliated with the Lebanese Maronite Order.
The Holy Land Council of Bishops condemned what it called the “robbery” of the monastery, stating perpetrators had cut the fence surrounding the monastery and stole expensive equipment and surveillance cameras, in addition to other content.
“We condemn the attack on the monastery and call on the Palestinian authorities, especially their security services, to bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible, and take measures to protect the monastery from similar attacks in the future,” the council said.
The council added that this was the sixth such incident targeting the monastery over the past few years.
In 2015 a fire caused extensive damage to the monastery, with PA security forces claiming it was caused by an “electrical fault”.
However, some Christian activists claimed that the fire was an “arson attack” launched by radical Muslims.
A senior PA security official said that an investigation has been launched into the “robberies” in Aboud and Bethlehem, adding there was nothing as yet to connect the two incidents.
The attacks have led to some Christians to question if the PA security forces were doing enough to protect the West Bank’s Christian holy sites.
“We feel we’re being deliberately targeted because we’re Christians,” a Christian woman from Aboud told The Jerusalem Post.
“When you see two attacks, on a church and a monastery, in one week, this makes you wonder whether there’s some kind of a scheme against Christians.”