Soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade are suspected of spitting toward the Armenian Archbishop and other pilgrims during a procession earlier this month in the Old City of Jerusalem, reports the Times of Israel, citing Haaretz.
Israeli Police detained the two soldiers on the spot, and the IDF later probed a total of three. The military has decided two soldiers will face disciplinary action for “behaving disrespectfully” without detailing the accusation.
Police officers escorting the procession detained two soldiers, one of whom was released after questioning. The police investigation is still ongoing.
The report said that one of the soldiers claimed he was only spitting on the ground and not at the pilgrims. Church officials filed a complaint with the police, and the day after the incident, they were summoned to give a statement. The police investigation is still ongoing.
Church officials said that on November 7, Archbishop Sevan Gharibian, the Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, along with other senior officials, was leading a procession including pilgrims from abroad to mark the Feast of the Cross.
The parade set off from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and when it reached the area of the souk, it passed by some Givati soldiers, some of whom spat at the participants and the cross they were carrying.
Chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem Koryun Baghdasaryan said that although the church has encountered such behavior in the past from religious Jews in Jerusalem, “this is the first time that soldiers have spat at us, on the cross and priests who were there.”
“They stood there and expressed their hatred for the cross and for Christianity,” he said.
The IDF said that the “two soldiers who were present at the scene behaved disrespectfully towards the priests” without detailing the suspected wrongdoing.
“The soldiers were summoned for an immediate investigation, and last week an investigation was held led by the Givati Brigade commander. In the coming days, the soldiers will be tried in a disciplinary court,” said the military, adding that “a recruit who passed by a procession of priests spat at the floor,” and the “incident is not consistent with IDF values.”
The IDF said the police detained that soldier immediately after the incident, and the case against him was closed the same day.