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Cycle of attacks on Holy Land churches continues

Third vandalism incident in a month; Israeli settlers suspected

October 18, 2012

BEIT SAHOUR, West Bank

On Oct. 8, the St. George Romanian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem was targeted in a string of attacks on Christian Holy sites. Assailants threw stones, bottles, and garbage at the door of the church. This is the third such assault to have occurred over the course of one month.

Earlier, on the morning of September 4, the Catholic monks at the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, near Jerusalem, awoke to find that the front door to their monastery was on fire. Vandals had set the door ablaze and sprayed painted Hebrew words on its walls included “Migron,” and “Jesus is a monkey.” 

It was believed that the attack was the result of the evacuation of the illegal settlement outpost in the West Bank called Migron.

A second attack took place on Oct. 2 when the Franciscan Monastery on Mt. Zion, which is build on the spot where it is believe that Mary the mother of Jesus died, was targeted with anti-Christian graffiti.  The assailants spray painted “Price Tag” and "Jesus is a son of a whore" on the walls.

Over the past several years, Israeli settlers have carried out “price tag” attacks against Palestinian targets in retaliation for the disbandment of settlement outposts by the Israeli government. Pro-peace Israeli activist have also been targeted in these “price tag” attacks. 

Members of the Israeli group Settlement Watch, a subgroup of the pro-peace organization Peace Now, have had their homes vandalized and their cars damaged.

In June, graffiti such as “death to Arabs” and “Ulpana outpost,” was found in the Jewish-Arab town of Neve Shalom. Jewish extremist also slashed the tires of 14 cars.

In February, a Greek Orthodox and a Baptist church in Jerusalem were also targeted with anti-Christian graffiti. The graffiti included phrases such as “Jesus is dead,” “Death to Christians,” and “price tag.”

There is no indication that the most recent assault was a “price tag” attack. 

Kelly Baker is a Presbyterian graduate student at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver pursuing an MA in Social Change. She is currently living in Beit Sahour, Palestine, completing an internship required for her degree program.

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