JERUSALEM (AP) — Vandals attacked a monastery in Jerusalem and a prominent school with a mixed Jewish-Arab student body on Tuesday, and police said they suspected Jewish extremists were behind the violence.
“Death to Christians” and other Hebrew-language graffiti was scrawled on the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem, while “Death to Arabs” was sprayed across a wall outside the bilingual “Hand in Hand” school in another part of the city.
Israeli police said they were investigating both incidents. Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that “price tag” was also painted at the monastery — a reference to a practice of Jewish extremists who lash out against the Israeli government for actions against settlers.
Such acts usually target West Bank mosques but have recently expanded to include a mosque inside Israel, Israeli military bases, and now, a Christian holy site and a school.
Israel’s Army Radio reported that “Maccabees of Migron” was painted on the monastery, too. Maccabees were ancient Jewish heroes, and Migron is an unauthorized settlement facing a court-ordered evacuation next month.
In the West Bank, Palestinians said “Mohammed is a pig” and other hateful slogans were also found spray-painted near a gas station of an Arab village. Rosenfeld had no information about that incident.
Hard-line settlers believe Israel has a God-given right to the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967, and reject Palestinian claims to those lands.
Extremists, believed to be young Jewish settlers, have carried out dozens of attacks on Palestinians over the past two years, chopping down olive trees, vandalizing agricultural land and setting fire to mosques. Few arrests have been made.
The Abraham Fund Initiatives, which operates educational coexistence projects between Jewish and Arab citizens, condemned the graffiti at the Jerusalem school, one of the few places in the city where Jews and Arabs work and study together.
“The political violence against Arab citizens, dubbed ‘price tag,’ is aimed this time toward education for shared living between Arabs and Jews in Israel,” it said. “This is an attack on a place that represents the wish of Arabs and Jews to build together a better future for their children.”
The Monastery of the Cross building dates back to the 11th century and stands on the site that tradition holds was the location of the tree used to make the crucifiction cross.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press