Israelis held as Christian graves vandalized
Published Monday 30/09/2013 (updated) 30/09/2013 22:10
Jerusalem's Mamilla, or Maman Allah, cemetery.(MaanImages/file)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police on Sunday caught four young Israelis red-handed as they vandalized Christian tombstones in a cemetery in Jerusalem, an Israeli police spokesman said.
"Four Israeli Jews aged between 17 and 26, including two from settlements in the West Bank, were arrested as they broke tombstones in a Christian cemetery on Mount Sion," Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
He said 15 tombstones were vandalized in the graveyard near the Old City.
Rosenfeld said police were pursuing two lines of inquiry -- that the attack was "a criminal incident motivated by nationalism" or that it was a "hate crime."
In July, two suspects were arrested after vandals set fire to the door of a Trappist monastery in Latrun, 15 kilometers from Jerusalem, in September last year.
Attackers had scrawled "Jesus is a monkey" on a nearby wall in an incident that shocked the religious and political establishment.
The Trappist abbey lies just inside the West Bank, very close to the 1949 armistice line, and is one of the most famous monastic sites in the Holy Land.
One suspect in the attack was from the Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
"Price Tag" attacks have targeted mosques, Palestinian homes and Israeli military installations in the occupied West Bank, but are generally less common within Israel.
Last December, Jewish extremists vandalized a Jerusalem monastery, spraying "Jesus is a son of a bitch," and Israeli nationalist slogans on church walls and nearby vehicles.
In early September, suspected Jewish extremists torched the wooden door of a Jerusalem monastery and in February extremists wrote "Death to Christianity" on two Jerusalem churches.
In 2011, an ancient mosque in Jerusalem was torched and sprayed with the Star of David, "price tag," "Muhammad is a pig" and "A good Arab is a dead Arab" in Hebrew.