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Vandals spray anti-Christian graffiti on Jerusalem church

May 31, 2013 12:57 P.M. (Updated: June 2, 2013 1:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Suspected Jewish extremists sprayed anti-Christian graffiti in Hebrew on a church in Jerusalem in the early hours of Friday morning, police said.

The vandals sprayed "Christians are monkeys" and "price tag" on the walls of the Church of the Dormition, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an.

They also slashed the tires of cars around the church, the Israeli daily Ynet reported.

An AFP correspondent said "Jesus is a monkey" was also written on the door to the adjacent cemetery, part of the church complex.

The church is one of Jerusalem's leading pilgrimage sites, where tradition says the Virgin Mary died.

Rosenfeld said an investigation had been opened into the incident.

Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna denounced the attack, noting that the abbey sheltered monks who sent a message of peace and love to all.

He condemned the repeated attacks by Israeli settlers against Islamic and Christian property, but said Palestinians would remain steadfast in defending holy sites.

"Price tag" is a euphemism for hate crimes committed by Israeli settlers mostly against Palestinians but on occasion against the Israeli military.

The attacks began in retaliation to Israeli government moves to dismantle unauthorized settler outposts. The perpetrators of such crimes are rarely caught.

The attacks tend to involve the vandalism or destruction of Palestinian property and have included multiple arson attacks on cars, mosques and olive trees.

At first, the attacks were predominantly in the West Bank, but they have expanded over time to include sites inside Israel and in Jerusalem, where a number of Christian sites have been targeted.

In December, vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on Jerusalem's Monastery of the Cross and at an Armenian cemetery, in an apparent price tag attack by Jewish extremists.

On May 13, vandals believed to be Jewish extremists desecrated graves and damaged property in a West Bank village in an apparent revenge attack for the stabbing death of Eviatar Borovsky by a Palestinian in April.

Following Borovsky's killing, settlers went on the rampage, stoning Palestinian vehicles in the northern West Bank, including a school bus carrying children.

They also smashed windows of a mosque and set fire to Palestinian farmland.

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