02/26/2018, 13.53
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Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulchre closes in protest (Photo)

The announcement in front of the closed doors of the basilica. The Israeli authorities want to confiscate assets and bank accounts of the churches. A draft law that would allow the expropriation of land. "This reminds us of all the laws of a similar nature that were implemented against the Jews in the dark ages of Europe".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The doors of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem have been locked since yesterday in protest against the "systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community of the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo " . Yesterday, the announcement of the leaders of the three Churches responsible for the sanctuary, in front of the sealed entrance.

The three Christian leaders - the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Teofilo III and the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton - have accused Israel of having pushed its offensive "to an unprecedented level".

One of the reasons for the protest is the imposition of the municipal tax of Jerusalem called "Arnona". According to the agreements between the Christian communities and the Israeli civil authorities, the Churches are exempted from paying the tax. On February 14, Christian leaders reacted to the demands from the mayor of the Holy City to pay taxes, recalling the "billions" that the Churches invest in "building schools, hospitals, and homes, many of them for the elderly and disadvantaged".

Yesterday, the three leaders denounced "the scandalous collection of notifications and orders of seizure of property, resources and bank accounts of the Churches, for alleged debts of municipal punitive taxes" issued in recent days by the municipality of Jerusalem. The seizures, which the heads of the Churches have called an "attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem", will have as "greatest victims" the "poor families who will have to go without food and home, while the children will not be able to go to school ".

They also denounce the proposed law for the nationalization of the lands of the Churches, which they called "discriminatory and racist". The discussion of the ministerial committee was scheduled yesterday, but was postponed. According to the three leaders, the "abominable" rule would have as its object only the properties of the Christian communities in the Holy Land and "would make the expropriation of the land of the Churches possible". " This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe", continued the heads of the Churches, and then reiterated: "We are united, firm and resolute to protect our rights and our property".

Photo by Nadim Asfour (Custody of the Holy Land)

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