Israel: Excessive force used against Coptic monks

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Coptic Christians in the Holy Land have requested prayer following the use of excessive force by Israeli security against monks of the Coptic Patriarchate engaging in a peaceful protest.

This morning (24 October) Israeli security forces used unprecedented force against members of the Coptic Church who were peacefully protesting violations of church property by the Israeli government. One monk was arrested and detained, but later freed after intervention from the Egyptian Embassy.

The Chapel of Archangel Michael in Deir Sultan next to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been contested for many years after an Ethiopian congregation was permitted by the Israeli government to take control of the property, despite a court ruling upholding the property rights of the Coptic Church.

In September 2017, a piece of masonry fell from the roof of the Chapel of Archangel Michael and the Israeli government undertook restoration of the roof and the entire church building without the consent of the Coptic Church. The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem organised a public protest outside the doors of the church to draw attention to the interference of the Israeli authorities in church affairs and the illegal appropriation of church property.

Christians in the Holy Land request prayer that:
a)       God will comfort the monks and others who were attacked and shown such disrespect and that they will forgive their abusers
b)      The tense situation in Deir Sultan will quickly become peaceful and that God will give wisdom to church leaders in handling the affair, in order that peaceable relations would be maintained between the churches and the authorities
c)       The Israeli authorities will treat Christians with greater respect and allow peaceful freedom of expression

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