'Death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel', 'Let his (Jesus') name and memory be obliterated' and 'Christians to Hell'. These are some of the slogans that were found on the doors and walls of the Dormition Abbey last week. Two days after the vandalism of the Dormition Abbey in Mount Zion, the police arrested two Jewish youths, aged 15 and 16, suspected in carrying out the attack. The two suspects were interrogated on Wednesday morning and are expected to appear in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.
Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem, said that the age of the two suspects - 15 and 16 - shows that a change in the education system is needed for these young people who are "encased in intolerance".
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "this is an action deserving of every condemnation. There is no place for actions like these. Israel is a country where Christians and other religions enjoy freedom of worship."
The Dormition Abbey has been the target of many attacks in recent years. In May 2014 - just after the visit of Pope Francis - and in February 2015, arsonists set fire to the church. In 2012 and 2013, anti-Christian slogans were sprayed on the walls of the building.
The Dormition Abbey, the convent at Bet Gemal, the Marian shrine of Dair Rafat, the Church of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha which was gutted by fire and the Latroun Monastery are some of the holy Christian places that have been targeted in the last few years. These attacks generally bear the hallmark of the Jewish extremist movement known as 'price tag'. Although there have been some arrests, no one so far has ever been found guilty of these offences.
Source: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem