Numerous gravestones were reportedly vandalized at a Protestant cemetery owned by an Anglican church, and a video purportedly showed Jewish men destroying the stones.
According to the Israel Police, unknown vandals destroyed numerous tombstones on Tuesday at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem. Officers arrived at the location following a report of vandalism, according to the police in a statement. Broken stonework and overturned gravestones were depicted in photos provided by the police.
Authorities Launch Investigation to Find Those Responsible
וידאו, שני יהודים משחיתים קברים בבית הקברות הפרוטסטנטי בהר ציון, אתמול. pic.twitter.com/NnCBvGkL6U
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) January 3, 2023
In December 2021, Christian leaders in Jerusalem warned that their communities were facing a threat from extremist Israeli groups that aimed to drive them out of the region. The patriarchs and heads of churches in the city issued a joint statement expressing concern about the danger posed by these radical groups, which they said are attempting to "diminish the Christian presence."
There have been instances of vandalism against Christian sites in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel by extremist Jewish activists, including hate graffiti and arson attacks. These extremist groups have also targeted Palestinians.
In an article in Sky News, The Jerusalem Protestant Cemetery is located on Mount Zion within the grounds of The Jerusalem University College. It was established in 1848 and has been maintained by local Christian communities.
The cemetery contains the graves of 77 military personnel, including four who died shortly after the First World War and 73 members of the Palestine Police who were killed during the Second World War. It is also the final resting place of many prominent Christian leaders, including Samuel Gobat, the former Bishop of Jerusalem.
Israeli police are investigating the recent act of vandalism at the cemetery, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has announced that it will assess the damage and begin repairs. Church officials attribute multiple instances of vandalism at Christian sites around the nation in recent years to Jewish extremists.
Community Leaders Call for Unity and Respect in the Wake of Attack
The Christian cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem has been vandalized multiple times. There have been instances of abuse of Christian clergy by religious and Haredi Jews in recent years.
According to Haaretz, in one recent incident, two soldiers from the Givati infantry brigade were questioned on suspicions that they spat at a procession of Armenian priests in the Old City of Jerusalem. Members of the Protestant community have expressed concern about these incidents and feel they are being minimized and not receiving enough political attention.
They are calling on the police and political system to take the issue seriously and provide support and protection for the Christian communities in the city to preserve their religious heritage.
The Foreign Ministry of Israel issued a statement condemning the act of vandalism at the Protestant church on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The ministry emphasized that the act was neither religious nor ethical and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. The statement also emphasized that the State of Israel guarantees freedom of worship and religion for all faiths and will continue to do so.
The Israeli organization Tag Meir, which works to combat acts of Jewish religious violence, also condemned the attack. They noted that this incident is one of many "price tag" and hate crimes carried out over the years at the Dormition Abbey, the Dajani family cemetery, and the seminary connected to the Orthodox church.