Two Jewish teens arrested for scrawling anti-Christian graffiti on Jerusalem monastery

Israeli policemen walk near the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem's Old City, after graffiti was found on some of it's exteriors January 17, 2016. © Ronen Zvulun
Israel has arrested two Jewish teenagers for tagging a Christian monastery with extremist graffiti in Jerusalem. The move comes just days after the Israeli prime minister ordered an investigation into a recent series of hate crimes.

The suspects are said to be a 15- and a 16-year-old boy, police said.

They are accused of writing curse messages in Hebrew, such as  "Christians go to hell,""erase the name and the memory of the bastard," and "death to the heretic Christians, enemies of Israel" on the doors and walls of the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem's Old City, police reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the Dormition Abbey graffiti incident an attack on religious coexistence and strongly condemned the perpetrators.

The incident is "deserving of every condemnation, there is no place for actions like these”, Netanyahu said.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem described the Dormition Abbey as "a significant place for interreligious dialogue between Judaism and Christianity" and voiced "hope that the perpetrators [of the vandalism] will be arrested before they put proposed threatsinto action.”

The Dormition Abbey is located outside of Jerusalem’s Old City walls on Mount Zion. Many Christians believe that Jesus hosted the Last Supper near the site, while it is also believed to be near the tomb of the Biblical King David.

The Dormition Abbey has been the target of multiple attacks in recent years. Similar graffiti was scrawled in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, a vandal set fire to a book containing visitors’ prayers.

Last month, vandals toppled dozens of crosses at a Catholic cemetery belonging to the Salesian monastery of Beit Jamal in the town of Beit Shemesh, about 30 kilometers west of Jerusalem, according to the local Latin Patriarchate.

In April 2014, vandals scrawled hate graffiti on the Deir Rafat Catholic monastery in response to peace talks between Israel and Palestine, while disparaging graffiti referring to Jesus and Mary was also painted on the walls.