Police arrested two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, on Sunday suspected of planning to spray-paint hate messages on the Ratisbonne Monastery in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood. The attack on the French Catholic monastery, founded in the mid-19th century by a convert from Judaism, would have taken place in the midst of a high-profile visit to Israel by French President Francois Hollande.
The arrests were made following an arrest of another suspect in the planned attack several days ago, police said.
The suspects were caught on the monastery grounds with paint canisters and pepper spray containers. According to police, the two are suspects in a series of other vandalism attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank. They were being watched by the nationalist crime division of the Israel Police’s Judea and Samaria District.
The two were reportedly refusing to cooperate with police investigators.
Earlier Sunday, a car belonging to a qadi, a judge in Israel’s state Muslim state religious court system, was torched in Jaffa.
No injuries were reported. According to Israel Radio, a vehicle was seen leaving the scene immediately after the blaze and is the subject of a police search.
The qadi in question is reportedly involved mostly in cases of divorce and family law in the Tel Aviv area. His name was not released by authorities pending an investigation into the case.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni decried the incident and said she had spoken to the judge. “I intend to join… with all relevant parties to deal harshly with those who threaten or act against the courts and law enforcement. Violence against law enforcement is violence against the very rule of law and democracy in Israel,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement filed a complaint with the Jerusalem police over anti-Muslim graffiti that was sprayed on Muslim graves in a cemetery in the Mamilla area in the city’s center.
The words “death to Arabs,” “revenge,” “price tag” and Stars of David all appeared to have been spray-painted on the gravestones sometime over the weekend. “Price tag” refers to acts of vandalism or violence typically carried out by right-wing activists as revenge for attacks on Israelis or actions by the Israeli government against the settler movement.
According to a witness interviewed by Ynet News, the local Arabs who take care of the cemetery were “very angry” about the incident, and “didn’t understand why someone would do something like this to them.”
An investigation has been launched into the incident.