Jewish extremists scrawl "death to Christians" in 'price tag' attack

Israeli police officers stand with a priest beside a car that was sprayed with graffiti outside the Monastery of the Cross, which was also defaced with graffiti, in Jerusalem 7 February 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Baz Ratner)

Published Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Palestinian monastery in Jerusalem, built on the spot where, according to tradition, the tree from which Jesus's cross was made once sat, was defaced with graffiti bearing the hallmarks of militant Jewish settlers, police said on Tuesday.

"Death to Christians" was daubed in Hebrew on the outer walls of the Monastery of the Cross, an 11th century fortress-like holy site situated in a valley overlooked by Israel's parliament.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the words "Price Tag" were also painted overnight by the vandals, who damaged two cars parked outside the monastery in a rare attack on a Christian shrine in Jerusalem.

The slogan, used by Jewish extremists in vandalism attacks on Palestinian mosques, churches, and homes in the occupied West Bank, refers to the retribution they say they will exact for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb illegal settlement in the territory.

"I am a priest and I forgive," Father Claudio of the monastery, which is administered by the Greek Orthodox church, told Reuters.

Rosenfeld said police had opened an investigation.

In January, Israel barred 12 Jewish extremists involved in such attacks from entering the West Bank for up to a year, none of whom were detained or imprisoned.

The move appears to have had no effect on reducing Jewish extremist violence.

Israeli officials regularly condemn such attacks, but rarely arrests the perpetrators.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, but construction continues to the detriment of the indigenous Palestinian population.

Israel has maintained a military occupation of the West Bank since 1967, and imposes strict conditions on native Palestinians while the settler community enjoys a number of privileges, including Jewish-only roads.

The Jewish state also maintains a siege on Gaza.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters)

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