Crime and Safety

American arrested in Israel on suspicion of ‘hate crime’ against historic Jerusalem church

Israeli police on Thursday arrested an American tourist after he allegedly knocked down and smashed a statue of Jesus in a church in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Images on social media showed the statue lying horizontally on the floor after it was apparently pulled from its stand in the church.

The incident took place at the Church of the Flagellation, which is located on the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus is believed to have walked to his crucifixion.

The police said they made the arrest with the help of a church guard.

A social media video showed a man sitting on an alleged vandal he is heard to say, “There can be no idols in Jerusalem, it is a holy city.”

Police said the man’s mental health was being assessed. american embassy declined to comment.

The incident comes as tensions escalate in Jerusalem and the region following a bloody week.

An Israeli military raid in the West Bank killed 10 people. Palestiniansmostly militants, but also a 61-year-old woman.

Palestinian shelling near a synagogue in East Jerusalem killed seven people, including a 14-year-old teenager.

Persecution of Christians intensifies?

The unrest comes in the early weeks of Israel’s new far-right government, some of whose ultra-nationalist and religious members used what critics called inflammatory anti-Arab rhetoric.

Custodia Terrae Sanctae, the Catholic Church’s guardian of holy sites in the Holy Land, said in a statement that “this hate crime joins a list of attacks, all of which were directed against the Christian community in Israel last month.”

“It is no coincidence that violent dialogue in Israeli society also leads to these serious actions,” the statement said, urging Israeli law enforcement to take action to stop such incidents.

Father Nikodimus Schnabel of Assumption Abbey near the Old City attributed the incident to the nature of the government.

“Welcome to the new Christian-hating Israel encouraged and supported by the current government!” he tweeted.

Police said they considered the damage to religious institutions to be serious.

The Western Journal reviewed this Associated Press article and may have revised it prior to publication to meet our editorial standards.

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