On January 1, dozens of graves were vandalized in Jerusalem’s cemetery on Mount Zion. A few days later, a video emerged where the subjects perpetrating the crime were shown wearing traditional Jewish attire.
On January 4, a reporter from the Jewish news Haaretz, Nir Hasson, tweeted the video captioned “two Jews vandalizing graves.” The footage shows the men wearing kippas (Jewish head covering) and tassels (tzitzit) knotted to their clothing, per the Torah’s command to the Hebrews. The men pulled down crosses inside the Christian cemetery and then smashed them to pieces.
וידאו, שני יהודים משחיתים קברים בבית הקברות הפרוטסטנטי בהר ציון, אתמול. pic.twitter.com/NnCBvGkL6U
— نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) January 3, 2023
Some of the desecrated graves belonged to prominent clergy. The cemetery was established in 1848 and has been used to bury British soldiers and even Palestinian police officers, some of whose graves were also vandalized.
The Protestant Anglican Church manages the cemetery through an affiliated organization. The Church and the United Kingdom condemned the attack. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, called the act “blasphemous,” and Ephraim Mirvis, the UK’s chief rabbi, called it “shameful Vandalism.”
More than 30 graves at a historic Christian cemetery in Jerusalem were found toppled and vandalized, the diocese said Wednesday, jolting the Christian minority in the contested city. https://t.co/iCuU4sYTA3
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 4, 2023
Church leaders in Jerusalem maintain that far-right extremists have been trying to push them out of the area for decades. They say not only cemeteries but also churches and monasteries have been targeted. They report that extremist Jews have been known to actually spit on Christians. In 2021, church leaders wrote a letter to the Israeli government asking for protection.
Authorities say they will investigate this latest incident, though no arrests have been confirmed. The Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, calling it “an affront to religion.”
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the act of vandalism at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem.
This immoral act is an affront to religion and the perpetrators should be prosecuted.
— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) January 3, 2023
Jerusalem’s British consulate said it was “the latest of a string of attacks against Christians and their property in and around the Old City.” To the community of Arab Christians, this attack is very worrying, coming just days after the swearing-in of the most right-wing government the country has ever elected.