Orthodox church leader pelted with eggs and shoes in Bethlehem

Orthodox church leader pelted with eggs and shoes in Bethlehem

The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar of the Holy Land and Jordan, Archbishop Mar Swerios Malki Murad, was the first to arrive, followed by the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Anba Antonius, then the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III and last the procession of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The patriarch was visiting Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity for services to mark Orthodox Christmas eve.

Palestinian police had to intervene as three cars in the convoy, excluding the patriarch's vehicle, had their windows smashed in the protest.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III arriving in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations.

Christian Palestinians were chanting "traitor, traitor!" as they cast stones and water bottles at the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem's vehicle during his visit to the occupied West Bank on Saturday.

Theophilos III is accused of orchestrating the sale of more than 500 dunams (123.5 acres) of Palestinian land belonging to the Arab Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to Israeli entrepreneurs belonging to Zionist and settler groups. The dramatic change in Theophilos's status among the Palestinians results from reports that he allowed Church property to be sold to Jewish Israelis.

In 2015, a patriarchate spokesperson denied that the church was selling off lands in Jerusalem - a claim that did not convince many members of the faith at the time.

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