The Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem was vandalized with anti-Christian graffiti overnight Saturday, the latest in a series of hate crimes against Christians and churches in Israel in recent years, police said.
“Christians to Hell,” and “Death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel,” were among the slogans painted on the walls of the Benedictine monastery, which lies just outside the walls of the capital’s Old City. “The revenge of the people of Israel is yet to come,” read another epithet written next to a depiction of a bloody sword.
Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said an investigation into the incident had been opened.
“Despite promises by the government, these incidents continue to happen,” Wadia Abu Nasser, the executive director of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, railed Sunday morning. “If we were to actually count all of these incidents, they’d be in the hundreds.
“We have limited resources at our disposal. It’s the state’s responsibility to not only apprehend these perpetrators, but to make the necessary changes in the education system to educate against this sort of thing,” he told Army Radio.
Nasser also called on rabbis to speak out against the reoccurring hate crimes. “It’s time they stopped hiding behind politics,” he said.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan vowed to “respond with zero tolerance against anyone attempting to harm the democratic foundations of the State of Israel and its religious freedom.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack.
Dormition Abbey, which is located right next to the Cenacle — which Jews revere as the site of King David’s Tomb and Christians as the room of the Last Supper — outside Zion Gate, was the site of graffiti attacks in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, hours after Pope Francis celebrated mass at the abbey, arsonists set fire to the compound, causing minor damage to its structure.
Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi condemned the graffiti as a religious hate crime, and slammed the “inadequate” response by Israeli authorities. In a statement Sunday morning, he warned against underestimating the impact of such attacks and called on police to put an end to them.
In recent years, Israeli nationalist vandals have targeted mosques and churches, in addition to Palestinian private property, on dozens of occasions — including the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, in northern Israel, which was badly damaged in a fire when arsonists set it ablaze in 2015.