Details from CNA:
Extremist Israeli groups have on several occasions in recent weeks attempted to storm the Melkite Catholic Church and Monastery of St. Elias in the northern port city of Haifa, Israel, prompting Christians to take measures to protect the holy site.
After several attempts last week, intruders managed to infiltrate the outer courtyard of the monastery and disrupt the prayer session taking place, causing fear and anger among the Christian community.
In an effort by the church to deter any future attacks, work began today to install an iron fence around the monastery. The monastery was founded by the Carmelites, who have been practicing their faith from Mt. Carmel in Haifa since the 12th century, when hermits began to gather in a caves in imitation of the prophet Elijah. Tradition says that the prophet’s cave is located underneath the altar of the church.
Wadih Abu Nassar, an adviser to several churches in the Holy Land, commented on the installation of the fence in a post on his Facebook page, saying: “The gates will contribute to facilitating filing a complaint against those who jump over the gates and walls of the monastery as an aggressor. It will also facilitate protecting the monastery from attacks.”
After a series of attempts to infiltrate the church, intruders were confronted by Haifa’s Christians last Thursday evening in the courtyard of the monastery and St. Elias Church.
The repeated attacks in Deir Mar Elias are linked to a group of extremist Israelis’ allegations that the Christian site contains the “tomb of the Prophet Elisha.” The church has responded to the allegations with a categorical denial, stressing that the monastery’s tomb contains only priests and monks.
The Justice and Peace Committee of the Council of Heads of Catholic Churches in the Holy Land condemned these attacks on Christian clergy and Christian holy places.
According to Christian tradition, Elijah rested here after fleeing the vengeance of Jezebel It is also said to be the burial place of the Greek Bishop Elias of Bethlehem who died in 1345, and St. Elias, an Egyptian monk who became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 494. Another Christian tradition is that Mary rested under the large hackberry tree growing north of the monastery when she was fleeing Herod, who had ordered the execution of all the children of Bethlehem.