Jesus statue vandalized in Jerusalem church
Police arrested an American tourist in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem’s Old City after he broke a statue of Jesus. (CREDIT: Reuters)
Israeli police arrested an American tourist who allegedly vandalized a statue in a Jerusalem church in the Old City.
“We take very seriously damage to religious institutions and sites,” an Israeli police spokesperson said in a statement. “The police will continue to act against acts of violence and vandalism in the holy places of all religions.”
Police arrested the tourist after hearing that he had broken a statue of Jesus Christ at the Franciscan Church of the Condemnation, which contains the Church of the Flagellation in the Old City of Jerusalem. The officers cooperated with church security to locate and arrest the tourist, a man in his 40s.
The church is believed to be on the site where Jesus was flogged by Roman soldiers and received His cross to carry to His crucifixion.
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Police have opened an investigation into the circumstances of the vandalism as well as the suspect’s mental state.
A damaged statue of Jesus in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem’s Old City, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.
(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Video of the incident showed a man sitting on the suspect, who can be heard saying “you can’t have idols in Jerusalem, this is a holy city.”
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“The police will continue to act with determination against violence and vandalism in the holy sites of all religions,” a police unit spokesperson in Jerusalem said of the case. “We will also continue to work in maintaining security and order.”
A photo from Israeli police arresting the suspect, a man in his 40s, after he broke a statue of Jesus Christ in the Church of the Flagellation.
(Police Spokesperson’s Unit)
“The Israel Police is unwavering in its efforts against lawbreakers wherever they may be, including those who harm holy places and religious sentiments,” the spokesperson added.
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Tensions have run high in Jerusalem over the past weeks as attacks between Palestinians and Israelis have spiked.
A priest stands by a damaged statue of Jesus in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem’s Old City, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.
(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
An Israeli military raid on a militant stronghold in the West Bank city of Jenin last week killed 10, most of them terrorists. The next day, a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed seven people in east Jerusalem during the Jewish sabbath.
A separate east Jerusalem shooting over the weekend by a 13-year-old Palestinian wounded two Israelis.
In a statement, the Custodia Terrae Sanctae, the Catholic Church’s custodians of holy sites in the Holy Land, said “this hate crime joins a list of attacks all of which targeted the Christian community in Israel in the past month.”
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“It is not a coincidence that the violent dialogue in Israeli society is translated also into these grave acts,” it said, calling on Israeli law enforcement to take action to halt such incidents.
Fox News Digital’s Yonat Friling and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.