A Christian monastery arsoned and vandalized in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – A fire broke out on Thursday morning 26 February inside a Greek orthodox monastery and injurious graffiti were written on the walls in Hebrew. The evening before, a mosque near Bethlehem was also arsoned and tagged
Fire broke loose around 4 o’clock in the morning inside the water closets of the seminary where windows were smashed. The walls of the building were vandalized with ultra-nationalist, racist and insulting graffitis against Christian faith and the person of Christ. Three fire brigades rushed to the scene, located not far from the Old City, and quickly mastered the flames, stopping the fire from spreading out over the entire building. No one was hurt.
The area was searched, but the culprits were not arrested. Jerusalem police says it has opened an enquiry into the circumstances of the arson, described as “heinous crime”. The Mayor of the town, Nir Barakat, on his partcondemned the criminal act and promised to follow up matters. In a political context where absence of reaction and follow-up from Israeli side was every time pointed out by victims of the assaults, only future will tell if the matter will be seriously taken into consideration or will end up – as other stories – “closed without further action”.
It is not the first case of vandalism committed by fanatics against Christian or Moslem sites. These acts more often than not are claimed by “Price Tag” – an extreme-right Jewish group which takes liberty in committing aggressions, threats and acts of vandalism of all kinds, against Christian and Moslem worshipping places, Palestinian or Arab Israeli villages. A couple of months ago Police arrested a 21 years old Jewish youngster who had damaged the cross and sculpture at the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. Prior to the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Holy Land last May, the monasteries of Deir Rafat and Tabgha, and also the Office of the Catholic Ordinaries in Jerusalem, had been vandalized. Patriarch Fouad Twal, during a press conference before the arrival of the pope on 11 May 2014, condemned openly these “repeated acts of vandalism which poison the atmosphere, the spirit of coexistence and cooperation”. The Patriarch then called on Israel Government not to stop at more condemnation, denouncing the absence or the “lack of arrests”. He underlined as well the prime importance of educating younger generation towards tolerance and mutual respect.
A mosque arsoned the day before
On Wednesday morning, a mosque in the village of Al Jab’a near Bethlehem was arsoned before the morningprayers and anti-Arab graffitis, calling for retaliation, were written on the walls in Hebrew. A crime that was condemned outright by Palestinian official figures and by UN.
The worshippers discovered the arson and extinguished the flames. Walls and worshipping carpets were damaged, windows smashed, but no one was hurt. The assault was explicitly claimed by the group “Price Tag” which did not fail to leave its prints among the injurious graffiti.