Israeli held for pro-settler vandalism of West Bank monastery

JERUSALEM Mon Jul 1, 2013 3:06am EDT

A monk stands next to graffiti sprayed on a wall at the entrance to the Latrun Monastery near Jerusalem September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A monk stands next to graffiti sprayed on a wall at the entrance to the Latrun Monastery near Jerusalem September 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli is under arrest for the vandalism of a Christian monastery in the occupied West Bank last year, carried out in solidarity with hardline Jewish settlers, police said on Monday.

Graffiti left on the 19th-century Latrun Monastery referred to Migron, an unauthorized settler outpost evacuated by the Israeli government. The words "Jesus is a monkey" were also daubed on the wall in Hebrew, and the monastery's doors torched.

The September act was condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the perpetrators had threatened freedom of religion and must be punished.

Netanyahu has become increasingly concerned by so-called "Price Tag" vandalism by Jewish ultranationalists aimed at causing offence and embarrassing the Israeli authorities they blame for trying to curb settler activity.

His rightist, pro-settler coalition government also fears that such vandalism, called Price Tag by militant settlers who want to exact a price from the authorities, because it could trigger violence with the Palestinians.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a 22-year-old man from Bnei Brak, a predominantly Orthodox Jewish town near Tel Aviv, was arrested on Sunday.

He was due to be arraigned later on Monday.

The Netanyahu government this month signaled a crackdown on Price Tag attacks by empowering Israeli security forces to investigate, detain and interrogate suspects more aggressively - measures akin to their handling of Palestinian militants.

The vandalism has mostly focused on Palestinian property, including mosques, but has at times targeted Christian churches and Arab sites inside Israel.

The Latrun monastery is near Jerusalem on land Israel captured in the 1967 war, and then annexed, in a step that has never been recognized internationally. It is surrounded by a valley, close to the West Bank's "Green Line" boundary with Israel, where fighting took place in two Arab-Israeli wars.

(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Elizabeth Piper)

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Comments (1)
TBellchambers wrote:
This violence against the Arab civilian population, this continuing terrorism, must stop.
The state of Israel must realise that the so-called pricetag terrorists who burn and destroy Arab houses and olive groves and who terrorise civilian families are, in fact, burning and destroying their own future. Democratic societies do not burn and destroy. Democratic societies have respect for human life. Democratic societies do not use chemical weapons against civilian men women and children. Civilian societies do not try and effect regime change by illegally blockading the free movement of essential goods and services on the pretext of preventing arms smuggling

Jul 01, 2013 5:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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