Suspects arrested during Orthodox Christmas Santa stabbing


Jaffa, Israel, was the scene of a Christmas Eve attack where a man dressed as Santa Claus is alleged to have stabbed a religious leader there. (Wikimedia commons)

A funeral procession was held Saturday for a man stabbed during a bizarre attack over the Orthodox Christmas celebrations in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Police said the suspect was apparently dressed as Santa Claus as he attacked Gabriel Cadis, Jaffa’s Orthodox Christian Association leader. The stabbing occurred as Orthodox Christians marked Christmas Eve during a march in Jaffa. Despite the timing of the assault, the Jerusalem Post said police don’t suspect any religious motivation behind the act.

Cadis was rushed to hospital, but died of his injuries. On Saturday, police said six members of an Arab Christian family were in Custody. The Washington Post reported that the Orthodox Christmas celebrations turned violent in the bizarre attack Friday that saw a man dressed in red and white stab Cadis in the back.

Cadis was said to have had long-standing disputes with other Arab Christians in Jaffa, according to media reports in Israel, the Washington Post said. 

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri told Agence France-Presse said a special unit was established to investigate the crime.

"Six suspects have been arrested and will be brought before a magistrate this evening for a remand hearing," Samri said.

There was no indication from Samri if the six suspects were Christian or Muslims. The Telegraph reported the suspect slipped away among the crowd.

“He also killed our Christmas joy, and also killed the human and spiritual values embodied by Father Christmas – who makes children happy on Christmas Eve,” Atallah Hanna, a Greek Orthodox cleric, told The Telegraph.

The Australian Broadcasting Network is reporting the Greek Orthodox community elected Cadis to a third term as the lay leader of the community, which may have triggered the violence.

Jaffa has been the site of sporadic violence, The Telegraph said. Orthodox Christians use the Eastern Church calendar and celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7. Less than five per cent of the population in the Jewish state are Christian, and the biggest minority is Muslim.