Clashes are taking place again in the area of the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa, while at the same time another unusual event took place in a church in the city. About 30 Hasidim from Rabbi Eliezer Berland's court at the Shuvu Achim Yeshiva came to pray at the Stella Maris Monastery on Mount Carmel in Haifa, claiming that the Prophet Elisha is buried there.
Upon entering, they were violently pushed out into the street by the Catholic Christians, and the physical confrontation continued outside the monastery as well. At the same time, an unknown person with a dog entered the church in the city's Wadi Nisnas neighborhood during prayer services, and was removed.
Forces from the Haifa police were called to Stella Maris, separated the sides and ordered the Hasidm - mostly minors - to the bus they came on. The police said that they handled the incident in this way out of "fear of violating public order and harming religious feelings."
The Haifa police began investigating the circumstances of the bus' arrival in an organized manner, and announced that a police team would remain at the scene at this stage to maintain public order.
"It's been a stormy morning in churches in Haifa. During Sunday prayers at the Mar Elias Catholic Church in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood, an unknown person with a dog burst into the church. The worshipers asked him to leave. At the same time, dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews arrived to pray at the Stella Maris Monastery. Dozens of young people arrived at the scene and prevented them from entering to pray there," said Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center, which promotes the rights of Arab Israelis.
"The Arab public in the city suspects that the ultra-Orthodox will take over the church as they did at the al-Khader site, that was important to people of all religions and in recent years has been renovated and is mainly used for Jewish prayer. The provocations in the monastery and the church have been repeated in recent months," he said.
Last month, about 300 members of the Christian-Catholic community in Haifa, including Hadash chairman Ayman Odeh, participated in a rally protesting the arrival of Breslav Hasidim to pray at the Stella Maris Monastery. They called the police to prevent the worshipers from entering the site. "They are trying to create hatred and strife, if they come here we will expel them," they threatened.
A week before that meeting, police arrested a 53-year-old resident of Haifa on suspicion of having attacked a Breslav Hasid and expelling him from the monastery, after he came to pray there. Two weeks before this incident, a video was published on social media in which the Breslavers were seen on the monastery's grounds, next to a caption in Arabic that read: "Dozens of religious Jewish settlers entered the church square and began to pray. This is aggression and a break-in to one of the holiest places for the Christian community."