Last updated: 6 March, 2012

Jerusalem graffiti targets Arabs and Christians

Vandals scrawled anti-Arab and anti-Christian slogans in Hebrew on a monastery compound and a school in Jerusalem overnight, Israeli police said on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said unknown people sprayed graffiti reading “death to Christians” and “price tag” on the walls of the compound of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Cross in west Jerusalem overnight.

“Price tag” is the name generally given to attacks carried out against Arabs and Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government action against settlements in the West Bank.

Two cars parked outside the monastery compound were also vandalised with graffiti and their tyres punctured. It was not immediately clear if the cars belonged to the monastery.

A joint statement from Christian, Moslem and Jewish institutions condemned what it called the “acts of desecration.”

“The Council calls upon people from all faiths; Christians, Jews and Muslims to respect all Holy Places and sites for all three religions,” the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land said.

The council, which groups the heads of churches in the Holy Land, the Israeli chief rabbinate and Palestinian Muslim authorities censured “extremists’ behaviour that exploits or involves religious holy places in a political/territorial dispute.”

There has been a spate of such attacks in the past year, targeting cars, schools, homes and mosques in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Arab villages in Israel.

In a second incident overnight, vandals targeted a school that teaches Arab and Jewish children in both Arabic and Hebrew, the only institution of its kind in Jerusalem, police said.

They spray painted “Kahane was right, death to Arabs” on the wall of the school, which is in the Arab east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Safafa.

“Kahane” is a reference to Meir Kahane, the founder of an extremist anti-Arab Jewish movement called Kach, which is officially outlawed in Israel.

Kahane was assassinated in 1990, but his ideology continues to find favour among some of Israel’s most extreme right-wing settlers.

Rosenfeld said an investigation into the incidents had been opened.

A third incident was reported Tuesday afternoon, in the village of Luban al-Sharqiyah, southeast of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Hebrew graffiti reading “death to Arabs” was sprayed on the wall of a building in a yard.

The Palestinians accuse Israel of failing to pursue those behind “price tag” attacks, saying that only individuals accused of targeting Israeli military facilities in such attacks have been charged.

Israel says it pursues those cases where evidence is available and notes that its political leaders have condemned the attacks, particularly against mosques.