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 yesterday.
Graffiti written 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 act in September last year was condemned by Israeli 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 ultra-nationalists which aims to cause offense and embarrass 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 was arrested on Sunday.
He was due to be arraigned later yesterday.
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.
The vandalism has mostly focused on Palestinian property, including mosques, but has at times targeted Christian churches and Arab sites inside Israel.