“My men and I, as well as honorable Muslim men and the police, worked all evening, with utmost restraint, in order to prevent bloodshed after the events at the Church of Annunciation,” Greek-Catholic Archbishop Elias Chacour said Friday.
Chacour, who was ordained on February 26, said images of teargas bombs and stunt grenades in the courtyard of the second holiest church for the Christian faith are embarrassing to Israel and the world.
“It is a serious and embarrassing event. No one here believes in violence and the police restrained themselves as much as possible. Yet in the church’s courtyard a crowd of Muslim and Christian youth gathered to protect the holy site. Our youths gave a good example of restraint, honorable objection and I hope that at the end of the day all three religions work together to protect holy sites,” Chacour told Ynet.
Chacour, who suffered from teargas inhalation, said it is the first time he encounters such an event. He said he know nothing about the Jewish man, his wife and daughter who detonated firecrackers in the church. He added that he worked to ease tensions and prevent bloodshed.
“I am not interested in these miserable people who carried out this miserable act. We worked so that this event doesn’t lead to bloodshed. I hope now we can work to teach youth in the State of Israel tolerance and mutual respect,” the Archbishop added.
Chacour said Bishops help prayers in the church during the events. “We reestablished order. We did so soon after the police concluded their activity here. On Saturday Masses will be held as usual,” he added.
Livni calls Vatican counterpart
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called her Vatican counterpart Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo to assure that Israeli authorities “will do our all to protect the holy sites of all faiths.”
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Nazareth mayor Ramez Jaraisi, asking for calm and pledging that the police will thoroughly investigate the incident.
Olmert also spoke with Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra and police chief Moshe Karadi and asked for vigilance in the police’s handling of the event to prevent deterioration.