Destroyed Christian graves in Jerusalem’s historic cemetery

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Jerusalem — More than 30 graves at a historic Christian cemetery in Jerusalem were found vandalized and defaced, the diocese said Wednesday, mocking the city’s Christian minority.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the attack an “immoral act” and “against religion.” The Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem Hosam Naoum called it a “clear hate crime”. The British consulate said it was just the latest in a series of attacks on the Christian community in the holy city of Jerusalem.

Police officers were sent to the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to investigate the damage. Mount Zion, associated in Christian tradition with the site of the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples the night before his crucifixion, is also sacred to Jews and Muslims and has been at the center of religious claims. competitor throughout the decades of conflict between Israel and Palestine. .

Security camera footage shared widely on Sunday showed two men – both wearing Jewish headscarves and tzitzit, the ceremonial fringes of a knot worn by observant Jews – breaking into to the cemetery, knocking over stone crosses and smashing and stomping on tombstones, leaving a trail of debris. and broken tombstones.

Among the tombs destroyed was one containing a 19th-century bust of Samuel Gobat, the second Protestant Bishop of Jerusalem who died in 1879, the diocese said. The graves of three police officers, British citizens serving in the then British-ruled Palestinian police force, were also damaged.

The diocese warned that the destruction of the cemetery should be seen as an ominous warning of “hatred against Christians.”

“Many stone crosses were the targets of the vandals, clearly indicating that these criminal acts were motivated by religious fanaticism,” he said, urging authorities to redouble efforts to remove the vandals. -will find.

The Protestant Cemetery on the venerable Mount Zion just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem was established in 1848 and was part of the land that Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The cemetery contains the graves of dozens of Palestinian police officers killed in the First and Second World Wars as well as Christian leaders who died in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Jewish extremists have opposed church ownership of Mount Zion in recent years. Jews consider Mount Zion to be the traditional burial place of the biblical King David and some ultra-Orthodox and nationalist activists have challenged Christian prayer rights at the site. A Jewish seminary known as the Diaspora Yeshiva has taken over many buildings in the Mount Zion complex.

About 16,000 Christians live in Jerusalem, most of them Palestinians. Israel claims Jerusalem as its eternal capital, while Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital for their independent state.

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This story has been clarified to show that the three police officers whose graves were also British citizens in the then British-ruled Palestinian police force.

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