Dozens of Christian graves toppled, defaced in historic Jerusalem cemetery: ‘Clear hate crime’
Dozens of Christian graves were found vandalized and toppled at a historic cemetery in Jerusalem, and Israeli police say they have arrested two people in connection with the crime.
Police officers were sent to the Protestant cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion to investigate the crime at a site associated in Christian tradition with the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples the night before his crucifixion and also sacred to Jews and the muslims.
At the scene, they found about 30 Christian tombstones that had been toppled and vandalized.
Security camera footage widely shared on Sunday showed two young men — both wearing a Jewish skullcap and tzitzit, the knotted ritual skirts worn by observant Jews — breaking into the cemetery, knocking over stone crosses and breaking and stomping on stones. of graves, leaving a trail of debris. and broken tombstones.
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Hosam Naoum, a Palestinian Anglican bishop, pauses where vandals desecrated more than 30 graves at a historic Protestant cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean))
Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the attack an “immoral act” and “an insult to religion.” The Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem Hosam Naoum called it a “clear hate crime”. The British consulate said it was just the latest in a series of attacks on the Christian community in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Among the tombs destroyed was one containing a 19th-century bust of Samuel Gobat, the second Protestant bishop in Jerusalem who died in 1879, the episcopal diocese said. The graves of three police officers, British nationals serving in the police force of the then British-ruled Palestine, were also vandalized.
The diocese warned that the desecration of the cemetery should be seen as an ominous warning of “hate against Christians”.
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Hosam Naoum, a Palestinian Anglican bishop, touches a damaged grave where vandals desecrated more than 30 graves at a historic Protestant cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
Chief Inspector Assaf Harel said two people have been arrested in the crime and Haartez reported that the two suspects are 18 and 14 years old.
“Any damage to religious institutions and places is serious and harms the unique and delicate life that exists for members of all religions in the city,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry wrote on Friday. “We have an ongoing commitment to maintaining safety and order, and an uncompromising and determined fight against lawbreakers wherever they are.”
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A tombstone is toppled where vandals desecrated more than 30 graves at a historic Protestant cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion in Jerusalem’s Old City, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. ((AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean))
Israel’s Christian population grew by 2% in 2021, to a total of 185,000, representing 1.9% of Israel’s total population, the Times of Israel reported.
About 70% of Christians live in the northern part of the country in cities such as Nazareth and Haifa, while about 13,000 call Jerusalem home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips at [email protected]