“This radical group has no right or judicial backing in their favour to allow them to enter or occupy the land,” the statement reads. “The Patriarchate also condemns the fact that the raid took place with the protection of armed Israeli police and border guards.”
The statement affirms that this piece of land, known as “the red land,” is five dunums in size (around 1.2 acres) and has been leased to the Sumrin family by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem since the beginning of the last century.
“The Sumrin family is still cultivating it to this day, and this intrusion is a clear encroachment on the Patriarchate’s properties in Jerusalem,” reads the statement. “The Patriarchate of Jerusalem clarifies that an attempt was made to attack this land previously in 2008 when the municipality tried to use it.”
A local EU statement also addressed the situation of Christian properties in East Jerusalem.
“The EU calls to protect the Status Quo and the Holy Sites, including Christian ones,” reads the EU statement. “The special status and character of Jerusalem and its Old City must be preserved and respected by all.”
World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca expressed solidarity with both statements. “We call for respect for international law, and we especially appeal to Israeli authorities to abide by international law, to restore and protect property rights, and to pursue justice,” he said. “We reiterate our insistence on the duty to guarantee human rights, and the need for peace and decent living conditions for all.”