Israeli police violated religious freedom - Vatican envoy

Upset by what happened at reporter's funeral, says Pizzaballa

16 May, 15:07

    Violent intrusion of Israeli police in the funerary procession of the Al-Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh Violent intrusion of Israeli police in the funerary procession of the Al-Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh

    TEL AVIV - Israeli police "violated in a very brutal manner" the right to "religious freedom" of the Church during the funeral of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, according to the charge of affairs of the Apostolic Delegation to the Holy Land, Father Thomas Grysa. The right, he explained is "included in the fundamental agreement between Israel and the Holy See". "This episode - he added - constitutes a moment of tension between Israel and the Holy See, even though perhaps it is not the first".

    "We are shocked by the unjustifiable modalities for what happened and we want to denounce and condemn it in a clear and unequivocal way", said the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, speaking about the behavior of Israeli police at the funeral of the Al-Jazeera reporter, referring to the fact that officers charged pallbearers. "Security reasons cannot justify an event of this kind - he added - that affects the sensibility of the Christian community and beyond, especially at such a delicate time as the one we are experiencing".

    Bishops and members of Christian churches "condemn the violent intrusion of Israeli police in the funerary procession of the slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while it was proceeding from the Saint Joseph hospital to the Melkite Greek Church". A document released at a press conference chaired by Pizzaballa on Monday in Jerusalem said that "police broke into a Christian hospital, failing to respect the Church, the hospital itself and the memory of the deceased and forcing pallbearers to drop the coffin". "The invasion of Israeli police and the disproportionate use of force, with the attack of people in mourning, the baton blows, the use of stun grenades, rubber bullets, the fear of the hospital's patients, is a grave violation of rules and regulations, including the freedom to worship and fundamental human rights that must be respected in a public space".

    "What happened last Friday - he continued - has not only wounded the Christian community, the sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition, owners of the hospital, but also all populations who found and still find peace and hospitality in this place".

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