And their bank account blocked:
Standoff over unpaid water bill could result in closure of revered church believed to be site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.
One of the most venerated sites in the Christian faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected, is facing a financial crisis over an unpaid water bill in a row that could result in its closure.
The church, which attracts more than 1 million pilgrims each year, has been issued with a 9m shekel (£1.5m) water bill, backdated 15 years to when the supply was taken over by a new company, Hagihon.
As a result of the church’s failure to pay, Hagihon has secured the freezing of the bank account of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is jointly responsible for the church’s administration.
The standoff was confirmed by the spokesman for Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, following a report in the Israeli paper Maariv. “It is completely true,” Issa Musaleh told the Guardian. “They have frozen our account. This is a flagrant act against the church.”
According to Maariv, the move has resulted in standing orders being rejected and cheques bouncing. Services which have been affected include telephones, internet and electricity, as well as companies supplying food.
“The church is completely paralysed. We can’t pay for toilet paper. Nothing. Hagihon has declared war on us,” a Patriarchate official told Maariv…
Read on here.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists jostle each day inside the gloomily lit spaces beneath the church’s dome. Despite the chaotic queues for the most revered sites within the church and the cacophony of chanting priests, tour guides and camera-clicking tourists, for many it is a deeply emotional and spiritual experience.
The original church was built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, which was then outside the city walls, in the fourth century.