Dozens of Christian graves toppled and vandalized in historic Jerusalem cemetery
Israel Police Chief Superintendent Assaf Harel issues statement after two were arrested for defacing Christian graves.
Credit: Israel Police Spokesperson’s Unit
Dozens of Christian graves were found defaced and toppled at a historic cemetery in Jerusalem and Israeli police say they have arrested two people related to the crime.
Police officers were sent to the Protestant cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion to investigate the crime at a site that is associated in Christian tradition with the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples the night before his crucifixion and also sacred to Jews and Muslims.
At the scene, they found about 30 Christian headstones that had been knocked over and vandalized.
Widely shared security camera footage on Sunday showed two young men — both wearing a Jewish skullcap and tzitzit, the knotted ritual fringes worn by observant Jews — breaking into the cemetery, knocking over stone crosses and smashing and stomping on tombstones, leaving a trail of debris and broken headstones.
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Hosam Naoum, a Palestinian Anglican bishop, pauses where vandals desecrated more than 30 graves at a historic Protestant Cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.
(. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean))
Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the attack an “immoral act” and “an affront to religion.” Jerusalem’s Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum called it a “clear hate crime.” The British consulate said it was just the latest in a string of assaults on the Christian community in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Among the destroyed tombs was one containing a 19th century bust of Samuel Gobat, the second Protestant Bishop in Jerusalem who died in 1879, the Episcopal diocese said. The graves of three police officers, British citizens serving in the police force of what was then British-ruled Palestine, were also vandalized.
The diocese cautioned that the desecration of the cemetery should be seen as an ominous warning about “hatred against Christians.”
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Hosam Naoum, a Palestinian Anglican bishop, touches a damaged grave where vandals desecrated more than 30 graves at a historic Protestant Cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.
( (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean))
Chief superintendent Assaf Harel said that two people have been arrested in the crime and Haartez reported that the two suspects are 18 and 14 years old.
“Any damage to religious institutions and sites is serious, and harms the unique and delicate life that exists for the members of all religions in the city,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry tweeted Friday. “We have a continued commitment to maintaining security and order, as well as an uncompromising and determined fight against lawbreakers wherever they are.”
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A headstone is toppled where vandals desecrated more than 30 graves at a historic Protestant cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.
( (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean))
Israel’s Christian population grew by 2% in 2021, to a total of 185,000, which represents 1.9% of Israel’s total population, Times of Israel reported.
Roughly 70% of Christians live in the northern part of the country in cities like Nazareth and Haifa, while about 13,000 call Jerusalem home.
THE Associated Press contributed to this report.
Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to [email protected].