Attackers daubed death threats on the walls of the Baptist House church in central Jerusalem overnight and vandalised three cars parked nearby in the latest “price tag” hate crime, Israeli police said on Monday.
“Anti-Christian graffiti was found on the walls of the Baptist church and the tyres of three cars parked nearby were slashed,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld of the church on Narkis Street in west Jerusalem.
The Hebrew-language graffiti was written on the exterior walls, with slogans reading: “We will crucify you” and “Death to Christianity,” an AFP correspondent said.
They also included crude insults about Jesus and his mother Mary, he said.
Chad Knight, business manager for the Baptist Convention of Israel, told AFP the church was appalled by the attack.
“The people who did this knew what they were doing. These things call into question the core beliefs of Christianity,” he said.
“We are just appalled by them and call on the authorities to take action to find those responsible as quickly as possible.”
The Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem, the highest Catholic authority in the Holy Land, also condemned “these acts hostile to Christians” and called for Israeli authorities “to better educate society” against fanaticism.
A week ago, anti-Arab graffiti was sprayed on the walls of a bilingual Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem in what was the second such attack on the establishment in less than a week.
“Price tag” is a euphemism for revenge hate crimes by Israeli extremists, which normally target Palestinians and Arabs and tend to involve the torching and vandalism of cars, mosques and olive trees.
But in the past few months, the attacks have widened in scope and also targeted the Israeli army, Israeli anti-settlement activists and more recently several churches.
Despite the rising number of attacks, the perpetrators are rarely caught and Israeli police say they are often unable to press charges given the lack of evidence.
Last year, police handed 65 indictments to extremists suspected of assault or for causing property damage in price tag attacks.