The Palestinian Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna, was reportedly hospitalized last Tuesday for inhaling poisonous gas after gas canisters were thrown into his church in Jerusalem, Al Quds TV reports.
The Archbishop suffered from temporary paralysis, though he is now in a stable condition.
A week earlier, speaking at the First Global Conference on Israeli Apartheid, Hanna stressed on the increasing policies enforcing apartheid in the holy city and in the rest of Palestine, stating, “The occupation in Jerusalem is treating us as if we are guests and foreigners in our own city. This is the embodiment of apartheid policies and practices against our people in Jerusalem specifically.”
He also called for Christians around the world to stand against the occupation of Palestine, noting, “In a few days, Christians will be celebrating Christmas all over the world. I would like to remind all Christians all around the world: there is no point in celebrating Christmas if you do not pay attention to what is happening in Palestine as it is the birthplace of Christ and where Christianity originated and spread its message throughout the world.”
“The nativity grotto is in Bethlehem. The true light of Christmas emanated from Bethlehem,” he added.
Archbishop Hanna further called for “all the churches of the world, in the west and east, to urgently defend Palestine, the children of Palestine, and the Palestinian cause. Let our message this Christmas be to free Palestine and the Palestinian people.”
Palestinian Christians amount to 20% of the 13 million Palestinians worldwide, with 70% living outside of Palestine or in Israel. Around 50% of Palestinian Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, one of the 15 churches of Eastern Orthodoxy.
On December 16, international organization Middle East Concern, which advocates for the rights of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, published a report noting that Israel restricts movements of Gazan Christians during Christmas, issuing only 100 permits restricted to adults older than 45, and refusing visits to relatives in Jerusalem and the West Bank.