Deir Rafat Monastery.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Jewish nationalists allegedly spray-painted hate speech on the walls of a Christian monastery west of Jerusalem, and slashed the tires of three nearby vehicles early Tuesday morning, in what police are deeming the city’s latest price-tag attack.
According to police, the incident took place in a monastery located near the Jewish city of Beit Shemesh.
The words “America is Nazi Germany,” “Mary is a cow,” and “Price tag” were spray-painted in crude Hebrew letters on the building’s walls.
“What we know now is that a number of the suspects fled the scene after vandalizing the cars and building,” Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Tuesday. “We have opened an investigation and hope to make arrests shortly.”
Tuesday’s incident is the second so-called price-tag attack in a little over a week.
On March 24 the tires of 34 Arab-owned cars were slashed and the words “Whoever is not Jewish in Israel = the enemy” were affixed on a nearby bus in northeastern Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood.
Despite the clear xenophobic underpinnings of Tuesday’s attack, Moshe Dadon, chairman of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council where the convent is located, said he did not want to rush to judgment that it was carried out by Jewish nationalists.
“It’s unusual – usually they strike at Arabs, not monasteries,” Dadon told Army Radio. “It’s quite strange that a convent was the target in this incident.”
While price-tag attacks are normally associated with Palestinian communities, over the last several years they have also targeted Christian institutions within the Green Line.
Indeed, according to East Jerusalem portfolio holder Meir Margalit (Meretz), most of the vandalism against the churches go unreported because its leaders are concerned complaints will result in escalation.
“These types of attacks happen every day, but the media rarely reports it because the Christian community does not want to inform police out of fear the problem will only get worse,” he said.
According to one official, who requested anonymity, the timing of the attack is likely related to the latest prisoner release, which the government has postponed due to increasingly tenuous peace negotiations.
“There is a lot of anger surrounding this issue, and this may well have been a manifestation of it,” the official said.