Iran's attack on Israel did not deter Christians from visiting holy sites

Worshipers kneel down around the Stone of Anointing, the place believed to be where Jesus Christ's body was laid after being taken down from the cross, during an Easter vigil mass on Holy Saturday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, on April 3, 2021.
Worshipers kneel down around the Stone of Anointing, the place believed to be where Jesus Christ's body was laid after being taken down from the cross, during an Easter vigil mass on Holy Saturday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, on April 3, 2021. | EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images

Christian pilgrims and tourists continued to visit Holy sites this weekend despite the Iranian regime's aerial assault against Israel, an attack that has heightened fears about existing regional tensions. 

Over the weekend, Iran launched around 300 missiles and drones, including ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. According to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the attack was retaliation for Israel allegedly striking its consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month, which resulted in the deaths of two high-ranking officers. 

Israel's defense system successfully intercepted the threats, with allies like the United States, Jordan and the United Kingdom coming to its aid. 

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As Breitbart reporter Joel B. Pollack noted Sunday, the lines were a little shorter this weekend but still long at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, which is believed to be the place of Jesus' crucifixion and tomb.

Christian pilgrims also visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

"Christians have been subjected to social and political pressure in Bethlehem as they have become a minority, relative to Muslims, and they have suffered from the Palestinian Authority's policies as well," Pollack wrote. "However, neither that history nor the ongoing threat of terror kept pilgrims and tourists from visiting this weekend."

Some Muslim tourists from places like Turkey or neighboring Palestinian areas also visited Bethlehem and its holy sites, according to Pollack.

According to Catholic Answers, Muslims also revere the Virgin Mary as the Quran praises her purity and the fact that God chose her above all women.

The Jewish Virtual Library also highlights Bethlehem as "biblically important" to all three Abrahamic religions.

On Sunday, Iran's armed forces chief of staff, Major Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, told Iranian state TV that Iran would carry out a larger attack if Israel retaliated and threatened to attack U.S. bases if the U.S. supports any Israeli attack, The Times of Israel reports. 

U.S. officials familiar with the matter told CNN that President Joe Biden and his national security team have said the U.S. will not take offensive action against Iran. 

Biden reportedly told Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu during a phone call Saturday that he should consider it a "win" that Israel intercepted Iran's attack. According to a senior U.S. military official, the U.S. determined that there was "no significant damage within Israel itself." 

On Saturday, the White House released a statement in which the president called Iran's attack "unprecedented." Biden also "condemn[ed] these attacks in the strongest possible terms." 

"Tomorrow, I will convene my fellow G7 leaders to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran's brazen attack," the president said. "My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel's leaders. And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people." 

The following day, G7 leaders issued a statement condemning Iran's attack against Israel while expressing its commitment to defending the security of the Jewish state. The intergovernmental forum also warned that Iran's actions risk "provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation," an outcome G7 leaders expressed a desire to avoid. 

"We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation. In this spirit, we demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives," the leaders stated. 

The statement also pledged to keep working toward an "immediate and sustainable ceasefire" and the release of individuals still held hostage by Hamas. The statement called for the delivery of "increased humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need." 

Israel has been at war with Hamas after the terror group killed at least 1,200 people and abducted over 240 during an Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israeli civilian communities.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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