In this Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 photo, Armenian priests arrive for Sunday mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during its renovation in Jerusalem’s Old City. The tomb was opened for the first time in centuries in October 2016, when the shrine that encloses the tomb, known as the Edicule, underwent a significant restoration. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM — Soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade are suspected of spitting toward the Armenian archbishop and other pilgrims during a procession earlier this month in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reports, quoting Haaretz.
It is the latest in a series of incidents of controversial behavior by soldiers in the infantry unit over the past month.

According to the report, two soldiers were detained by police on the spot and a total of three were later probed by the IDF.

The military has decided two soldiers will face disciplinary action for “behaving disrespectfully,” without detailing the accusation.

Church officials said that on November 7, Archbishop Sevan Gharibian, the Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, along with other senior officials, was leading a procession including pilgrims from abroad to mark the Feast of the Cross.

The parade set off from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and when it reached the area of the souk it passed by some Givati soldiers, some of whom allegedly spat at the participants and the cross they were carrying.

Chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem Koryun Baghdasaryan told Haaretz that although the church has encountered such behavior in the past from religious Jews in Jerusalem, “this is the first time that soldiers have spat at us, on the cross and priests who were there.”

Israel Police officers who were escorting the procession detained two soldiers, one of whom was released after questioning. The police investigation is still ongoing.

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