Vandals Destroy Crosses at Beit Shemesh Christian Cemetery In Israel

Vandals desecrated the Christian cemetery at the Beit Jamal Monastery near Beit Shemesh, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on January 9, 2016. (Latin Patriarchate’s Media Office)
Vandals desecrated the Christian cemetery at the Beit Jamal Monastery near Beit Shemesh, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said on January 9, 2016. (Latin Patriarchate’s Media Office)

Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem urges Israel to investigate desecration of dozens of graves at Beit Jamal Monastery

Vandals have destroyed dozens of crosses at a Christian cemetery west of Jerusalem, the Latin Patriarchate in the city said Saturday, urging Israeli authorities to bring the culprits to justice.

The church did not say who was behind the desecration but in recent years there have been a spate of hate crimes known as “price tag” attacks targeting churches and Christian cemeteries, with the perpetrators believed to be Jewish extremists.

The attacks, that have escalated in the wake of the break down of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks last year, intend to exact a price for Israeli government policies seen as detrimental to the settlement enterprise. Such attacks have long been a problem in the West Bank. But suspected Jewish extremists increasingly are targeting Israeli Arab citizens, mosques and churches within the country’s borders.

“Salesian fathers responsible for the monastery in Beit Jamal reported that unknown persons desecrated their monastery’s cemetery,” the patriarchate said in a statement.

“The fathers reported also that tens of crosses were destroyed at their cemetery,” it said, condemning the attack which apparently took place in December.

The Beit Jamal monastery, next to the town of Beit Shemesh, is known for its good relations with Israelis who visit to buy its ceramics.

Vandals had desecrated the cemetery of the Catholic monastery of Beit Jamal, which is run by the Salesian order, in September 1981, said the statement.

The patriarchate urged “the police… and the Israeli authorities in general to invest every possible effort” to bring to justice those responsible for this and past desecrations.

“We do hope that more efforts be made to educate all inhabitants of the country to respect each other despite their different religious backgrounds,” said the English language statement.

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SOURCE: AFP, Times of Israel