A European Christian pro-Israel group slammed international Christian institutions on Monday for standing behind Arabs, not Israel, in the current conflict around the Temple Mount and placing blame for recent violence on the Jewish state, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“It is simply wrong to blame the Israeli government for wanting to protect those entering the Temple Mount after the recent killings,” European Coalition for Israel Founding Director Tomas Sandell said.
“Metal detectors are today a part of standard security procedures at holy sites in the world, from the Vatican to Mecca. These measures are put in place simply in order to protect people and are not meant to deny anyone access,” he pointed out.
The comments came in response to a growing number of international Christian ministries and organizations blaming Israel for “inciting” the violence by installing metal detectors at the Temple Mount after a Palestinian terror attack on July 14 left two Israeli policemen dead at the holy site.
The Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) on Sunday put its support behind the Palestinian riots and protests against Israel following the new security measures, hotly defending the “historical status quo”, which denies equal rights to Jews and Christians on the site.
“Denying access to holy sites for thousands of people who have traveled far to pray is not only a violation of the rights of those individuals, but also a corrosive act in the midst of an already-fragile peace,” said Acting Secretary General Fr. Ioan Sauca.
He seemed unaware that Israel was not, in fact, denying access in any way to Muslim worshipers, but simply requesting that they pray without the aid of knives, guns or other weapons they could use to kill Israelis.
In a Friday statement from WCC Secretary-General Olav Fykse Tvei, the organization, which is said to represent millions of Protestant Christians, called for Israel to immediately remove the metal detectors without referring to the Palestinian violence that precipitated their installation.
The metal detectors have since been dismantled by the Israeli authorities, but the turmoil is ongoing, as Muslims refuse to enter the Temple Mount or stop protesting until every vestige of the contentious security is gone.
The WCC statement joined a declaration released by Middle East Christian leaders and similar sentiments expressed by the Vatican. In a statement, the heads of 13 Christian communities in Jerusalem condemned the escalation at the Temple Mount, but referred to the site solely by its Arabic name and failed to recognize any Jewish or Christian connection to the Mount.
Of the metal detectors, the declaration read, “We are worried about any change to historical (Status Quo) situation in al-Aqsa Mosque (Haram ash-Sharif) and its courtyard, and in the holy city of Jerusalem.”
The Vatican also put in its two cents, with Pope Francis on Sunday sending a “distressed appeal for moderation and dialogue”. Again, he did not refer to the violence, incitement, rioting or protests instigated by the Palestinians.