Israeli Politicians Condemn Attacks Against Egyptian Churches

Yerushalayim (Ilana Messika/TPS) – The Israeli political establishment condemned on Sunday the deadly terror attacks on Egyptian churches and encouraged there to be a concerted effort to prevent the destabilization of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rule in the country.

The attack was split into two. The first explosion targeted a church in the city of Tanta in the Nile Delta region. Israeli media reported 30 casualties and at least 70 wounded in the attack. The church was filled with worshippers on the occasion of a Christian feast falling the Sunday before Easter. Within a few hours, a second attack occurred in a different Church in Alexandria. At least eight people were killed and more than 30 wounded. The two attacks combined caused a total of 38 dead and more than 100 wounded.

Following the attack in the Tanta Church, Prime Minister Netanyahu sent condolences to the families of those murdered in the attack in Egypt and expressed his wishes for recovery for the injured. He further claimed that the “world must unite and fight terrorism everywhere.”

“Terror doesn’t stop in Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Berlin, London, or Jerusalem. Today’s terror attack near Cairo reminds us that Egypt too is under attack,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

“Alongside the sorrow and grief, we need to join forces against the forces of evil and terror with an iron fist. Israel is part of the international campaign against terror wherever it strikes and is ready to assist in order to rein it in,” she contended.

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council and researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, warned against the strategic threat the destabilization of the Egyptian government could represent for Israel.

“The stability of the Egyptian government finds itself under serious threat in the aftermath of a series of deadly attacks by radical Islamist elements against Christian institutions in the country,” Lerman explained.

“These actions are aimed at obtaining public support of the most despicable kind to undermine the stability of relations with the Christian minority, leading to significant harm not only to the social fabric of the country, but also to its economy,” he added.

“The stability of the Egyptian government is a strategic value of utmost importance to Israel. Therefore, Israel and its partners in the Middle East should help Egypt in its important struggle against Islamist terrorism and mobilize American and international support to prevent destabilization of the country’s government,” Lerman concluded.

ISIS has presently claimed responsibility for the attack.  Egyptian Churches have been the targets of several attacks by Islamic extremists, whether ISIS or violent Muslim Brotherhood elements. Egyptian Christians constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East and are an estimated 10% of the Egyptian population. In December 2016, a suicide bomber affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked a Church using 12 kilos of TNT and killed 25 people, most of whom were women.

Dozens of Egyptian Christian families have reportedly been fleeing their homes in the northern Sinai Peninsula over the last month, driven by the targeted campaign of Islamist violence.

The attacks also precede Pope Francis’s scheduled visit to Egypt at the end of April to attend an international peace conference and to show solidarity with Christians targeted by violence in Egypt. The Pope is to meet with the head of the Egyptian Church, and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Statements of condemnation for the attack against Tanta were also issued by Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, and Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

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