Police arrested two Jewish teenagers on suspicion of scrawling anti-Christian graffiti earlier this week at a famous Jerusalem church.
The two were arrested just two days after the vandalism was discovered on Sunday at the Dormition Abbey, where Christian tradition says the Virgin Mary died.
The first suspect, 16, was questioned on Wednesday morning, and was scheduled to be brought forward to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to extend his remand. The second suspect, 15, was taken into custody early in the afternoon.
Anti-Christian slogans were scrawled on the church's walls and doors using red and black markers. These included: "Christians to Hell," "May his name be obliterated" (a supposed Hebrew acronym of Jesus' name in Hebrew), "Death to the heathen Christians the enemies of Israel" and more.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the vandalism during the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday saying "This is an action deserving of every condemnation, there is no place for actions like these. Israel is a place where Christians and all other religions enjoy freedom of worship, and the only place in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing. The police are working on finding those responsible."
In February last year, arsonists set fire to a building near the abbey. In 2013 and 2012, similar anti-Christian graffiti was written on the abbey's walls.
During Pope Francis's visit in 2014, the pope celebrated mass in the Dormition Abbey. Shortly after the Pope left, a visitor book was set ablaze by an anonymous arsonist.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now