The Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem was vandalized and tires of two vehicles parked outside it were punctured overnight Thursday in a suspected "price tag" attack.
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The words "Jesus is a monkey" and "Havat Maon", the name of an illegal outpost built by settlers that was dismantled by the state this week, were sprayed on the holy site on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. The vandalism was discovered Friday morning.
The Dormition Church, built over a century ago near the site of the Last Supper, is one of the Franciscan order's most important holdings in the Holy Land.
Also on Friday, police found that tires of three vehicles had been punctured in Beit Ilo, in Binyamin, which is north-west of Ramallah. Graffiti was found on one of the vehicles, reading, "revenge", and on a nearby wall, with the words "price tag – regards from Baruch Tzuri to Eviatar", referring to Eviatar Borovsky, a father of five from the settlement of Yitzhar who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian at Tapuah Junction near Nablus on April 30.
The attack on the Dormition Church is the latest incident in a long line of antagonistic acts toward Christian institutions in Jerusalem, and marks the second time the Dormition Church has been targeted. The first time was in October 2012, when slogans desecrating Jesus Christ were sprayed, reading "Jesus, son of a bitch, price tag."
Following the latest incident, Bishop Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem, said education was the answer to preventing racist acts such as this. It is absolutely necessary to stop these acts of vandalism by promoting better education of youth, especially in schools, he said, adding that this would constitute "a long-term process, that would demand a lot of patience.
The Latin Patriarchate condemned acts of vandalism in Jerusalem, a holy city for three religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, saying, "Such an act of violence is a despicable attempt to undermine coexistence between believers."
Over the past two years, dozens of "price tag" attacks have taken place in Jerusalem, the vast majority of which were directed toward the Christian community. Among sites targeted in recent "price tag" attacks have been the Monastery of the Cross, the Westboro Baptist Church in central Jerusalem, an abandoned mosque on Strauss Street, and the houses of left-wing activists, among others.
Members of the Tag Meir forum, which unites organizations that object to the "price tag" phenomenon, visited Friday morning the village of Zubeidat. The village, northeast of Jericho, suffered from "price tag" actions on Wednesday, when right-wing activists burned four cars and a tractor and spray painted malicious graffiti. During the visit, the delegation met with Brigade Commander Lieutenant Colonel Lauren Fartush, who said that it is only a matter of time until the perpetrators are arrested. "We will do whatever it takes to protect the peace of residents and their property," he said.