Israeli General's Retirement Ceremony Held in West Bank Monastery, Without Telling Anyone

Members of the monastery say that when they called Israel's Civil Administration to ask about the event, they discovered that the agency had also not been told of the plans

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The ceremony held at the entrance to the Mar Saba Monastery, on Thursday.
The ceremony held at the entrance to the Mar Saba Monastery, on Thursday.

The Israeli army held a ceremony for a retiring general on the grounds of Mar Saba Monastery in the West Bank on Thursday, without informing the Palestinians or coordinating with other military bodies.

The retirement ceremony, held for Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Turgeman, the head of the technological and logistics directorate, included flags, speeches and an unusually large military presence. But despite the scope of the event, the monastery was not notified about the plans.

During the ceremony, both the monastery and local Palestinians complained about the event. Members of the monastery say that when they called the Civil Administration to ask about it, they discovered that the agency had also not been told of the plans.

“It surprised us and we hope that this will not be repeated,” the Secretariat-General of the Jerusalem Patriarchate told Haaretz. The Etzion Brigade, which is responsible for security in the area, was also unaware of the ceremony.

The Lavra of Saint Savvas the Sanctified, commonly known by its Arabic name, Mar Saba, is a Greek Orthodox monastery, located east of Jerusalem in Area C – areas of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control, according to the Oslo Accords.

News of the ceremony was shared on Palestinian social media, together with a video captioned “Mar Saba in danger of Judaization.”

The Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Atallah Hanna, also denounced the ceremony, stating the monastery “is a holy site in which the monks stay in an atmosphere of quiet, silence and prayer and it is unacceptable for Israel, whether it is the army or settlers, to ignore the sanctity of the place and hold a provocative festival with no consideration for religious sentiment.”

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit issued a response to the incident, saying: "IDF personal coordinated the visit directly with the monastery, as it is privately owned. After an examination, it turned out that coordination with the relevant institutions was deficient."

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