Israeli police arrest two suspects in Protestant cemetery vandalism

Israeli police arrest two suspects in Protestant cemetery vandalism
2 min read
Two suspects have been arrested by Israeli police for vandalising a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem earlier this week.
It was the second act of vandalism against a Protestant site in Israel in a decade [Getty]

Israeli police said on Friday they arrested two people suspected of vandalising a Protestant cemetery in Jerusalem earlier this week.

Police said in a statement that extensive damage had been caused to gravestones at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery, calling it an "act of intentional vandalism and defacement."

Two people aged 14 and 18 have been arrested and will be brought to court, according to the statement. It did not identify the suspects, saying only they were residents of central Israel.

The commander of the Jerusalem Police District, Superintendent Doron Turgeman, met with church leaders and offered to help repair the damage.

"Any damage to religious institutions and sites is serious and damages the unique and sensitive quality of life that exists in the city, inclusive to all religions and tradition," said Turgeman.

Jerusalem has sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Israel occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, where most of the city's holy sites are located, in 1967.

Under Israeli rule, Jewish extremists have regularly stormed the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Some of them wish to demolish the mosque and build a temple in its place.

It was the second vandalism against the Protestant Church in a decade. 

Bishop Naoum had blamed the act on the rise of hate speech in Israeli society. 

In a Christmas message earlier this week, Church leaders in Jerusalem described a "disheartening atmosphere" prevailing in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.  

Palestinian Christians are increasingly facing "assaults" on their free exercise of religion, personal "attacks," defamation of churches and cemeteries, the message read.

These acts, Church leaders say, have led to a lack of hope, primarily among Christian youth, who "feel unwelcome in the land of their ancestors."  

(Reuters & The New Arab)