Vandals on Wednesday sprayed offensive graffiti in Arabic on headstones and graves in a Christian Arab cemetery in northern Israel.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident in Kafr Yasif, Channel 10 News reported. The motives were not yet clear.
Israel’s declining Christian population — which accounts for just 1.9 percent of Israelis — finds itself between a rock and hard place, sandwiched between the majority Jewish population and the rapidly growing Muslim one.
Historically, Christian cities like Nazareth have gone from a large Christian majority before 1948 to one where 70 percent of its 80,000 residents are Muslim today.
Religious tension there came to the fore in the early 2000s, when local Muslims began constructing a new mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation, the city’s towering Christian landmark.
In early 2002, the government decided to halt construction on the site, built over the grave of Saladin’s nephew Shihab a-Din, following massive pressure from the Vatican.
In Bethlehem, Christians now make up barely a third of the population, their ranks having been severely depleted by the Christian exodus during the worst years of the Second Intifada.
Jewish right-wingers have meanwhile repeatedly also targeted Christian institutions.
In January, they spray painted the Dormition Abbey with anti-Christian slogans such as “Christians to Hell,” and “Death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel.”