In the latest of a series acts of vandalism against Christian sites across Israel, several graves have been damaged by vandals at the Protestant cemetery of Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.
A security camera video shared on social media shows two apparently Jewish men wearing kippot breaking into the cemetery, and smashing the gravestones. The footage dates to last Sunday, 1 January.
Photographs handed out by the police who arrived at the scene after receiving a report of vandalism, showed toppled gravestones and broken masonry.
The cemetery was opened in 1848 by then-Bishop of Jerusalem Samuel Gobat, and is now owned by the Church Missionary Trust Association Ltd, an Anglican organization.
The incident comes as the outcry continues over far-right National Security Minister Itaman Ben-Gvir’s 15-minutes “walk” around the al-Aqsa compound. The ultra-nationalist leader, who was sworn in the new Netanyahu government last week, visited the site on Tuesday morning, in a move that has drawn condemnation from the Arab world and the international community.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to the Jewish people as the Temple Mount, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. For Muslims, it is considered the third holiest site located inside the Old City of Jerusalem.
Archbishop Hosam Naoum: a “clear hate crime”
The desecration of the Christian gravestones has been strongly condemned by Jerusalem’s Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum who has termed it as a “clear hate crime” against Christians. “This act is not just cowardly but disgusting, and any person with blood through their veins would reject such behaviour,” Naoum told a press conference on Wednesday.
Latest of a series of acts of vandalism against Christian sites
It is the latest of a series of acts of vandalism, including hate graffiti and arson attacks, perpetrated by extremist Israeli activists against Christian sites in the country. Targets struck in the past years include the Basilica of Nazareth and Catholic and Greek- Orthodox buildings. Mosques and Muslim places of worship have also been targeted.
Christian leaders in the Holy Land have repeatedly warned that their communities are under threat of being driven from the region by extremist Israeli radical groups.
On December 16 , 2022, the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL), voiced their concerns over the “gradual deterioration of the general social and political” situation in the Holy Land, also pointing to “divisive statements” made by some political leaders against “the Arab or otherwise non-Jewish community” which, they said, “are contrary to the spirit of peaceful and constructive coexistence among the various communities that make up our society”.
By Lisa Zengarini | vaticannews