Yeshiva students arrested for desecrating cemetery

Police say four young Israelis caught red-handed vandalizing at least 15 Christian tombstones near Jerusalem’s Old City

Illustrative photo of tombstones in a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0, Hanay)
Illustrative photo of tombstones in a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0, Hanay)

A group of Jerusalem yeshiva students were arrested Sunday for allegedly vandalizing an ancient Christian graveyard outside the capital’s Old City, near the Dormition Abbey. Police said they witnessed four young men, aged 17-26, using large rocks to smash at least 15 tombstones in the Greek-Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion.

The four attempted to flee the scene, but were apprehended by police officers and brought to a nearby police station for questioning.

According to the police, two of the alleged grave desecrators had previously been issued a court order forbidding their presence in the West Bank, Maariv reported. Police investigators subsequently asserted that the vandalism had been carried out as part of a “price tag” attack.

“Price tag” is a term used, usually by Jewish extremists associated with the settler movement, to denote an assault, typically against Muslim or Arab property, undertaken in revenge for what they perceive as pro-Palestinian or anti-settler actions by the Israeli government.

Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by the vandals in recent years.

Earlier Sunday, two Jewish teenagers were arrested on suspicion of damaging multiple vehicles in the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Police said the two teens, ages 14 and 16, were caught in the act of using keys and a screwdriver to damage at least eight cars in the area around the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik, which is located in Sheikh Jarrah.

The suspects reportedly were not cooperating with the police investigation.

The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has been targeted several times in the last few months in “price tag” attacks. Last week, several cars had their tires slashed and the words “price tag” were spray-painted on nearby walls.

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