'Some 30 headstones have been smashed in a Christian cemetery belonging to a Catholic monastery located not far from Jerusalem. A local cleric called it a deliberate desecration while the police opened a probe into a hate crime.
The vandals tore down concrete crosses marking dozens of graves at the cemetery belonging to the Beit Jamal monastery, a popular pilgrimage and tourism site, located some 30 kilometers west from Jerusalem near the two of Beit Shemesh. The tombstones were toppled and some tombs were damaged as well.
All hate crimes are wrong! Tombs were destroyed and several crosses broken at a #Christian cemetery near #Jerusalem (Beit Jamal) last night. This comes 2 yrs after similar vandalism at the same cemetery and a year after the desecration of the church here. pic.twitter.com/LDYAsWyTPx
— Ruth Marks Eglash (@reglash) October 18, 2018
The damage was discovered by the monks, who visit the graveyard every few days. They believed that the incident was not a mere act of vandalism. "They wanted to smash, to pull down, a symbol of the Christians, the cross,” Father Antonio Scodo, responsible for the upkeep of the Saint Stephen's Church graveyard, told AFP, calling the incident an act of “desecration.”
Police has opened an investigation into the incident, calling it a “hate crime.” However, it said that the act of vandalism might have actually taken place “several weeks” ago, adding that they had no suspects so far. Meanwhile, the incident caught some attention from the local activist groups, Israeli officials and even foreign states.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement, condemning the incident. The ministry’s spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, called cemetery’s desecration a “despicable act.” He also said that “Israel is committed to combat any form of hatred and intolerance against all religions.”'
Read more: Vandals destroy Christian cemetery in Israel in apparent hate crime