GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli settlers affiliated with the Ateret Cohanim settler organization broke into the Petra Hotel, which is owned by the Greek Orthodox Church, on March 27, in an attempt to seize the premises. A small group remains in control of part of the premises, claiming to have documents proving their ownership of the hotel. The church says the documents are forged and has filed a complaint with the Israeli courts, demanding the settlers be expelled.
Representatives of Jerusalem's Christian communities organized a vigil March 29 to protest the hotel occupation. During the vigil, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III described the settler organization as “an extremist group that practices criminal activities and acts as if it is above the law.”