Israeli leaders and members of the public are sharply criticizing Orthodox Jewish extremists who were captured on video spitting at Christian pilgrims in the Old City. Another group of Orthodox protesters gathered outside an International Christian Embassy (ICEJ) event where Israeli notables had been invited to speak. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement indicating “zero tolerance toward any harm to worshipers.” He said, “Israel is fully committed to safeguarding the sacred right of freedom of worship and pilgrimage to the holy sites of all faiths,” and added that “we will take urgent steps against such actions.” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also reacted strongly, saying, “I condemn the ugly act of spitting on Christians and harming any person due to their religion or beliefs.” In a video address President Isaac Herzog said that “the State of Israel will always preserve freedom of religion and worship and welcomes guests, and brothers and sisters of ours.”
A small contingent of demonstrators gathered outside Jerusalem’s Pais Arena, where the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ} was holding an Israeli Night, inviting Israelis, including government and military speakers, to join the Christian visitors. The protesters shouted for Christians to stay out of Israel and warned, “Jews, do not enter this event.” The next day, police announced they had arrested five people—four adults and one youth—for the spitting incident in the Old City.
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