AL-QUDS (AFP/Al Jazeera) – A bishop in Al-Quds said Wednesday he was “dismayed” by the desecration of dozens of Christian graves on the edge of the Old City, as police probed the vandalism.
Stone graves lay in pieces with crosses toppled at the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, where Christians believe Jesus’ Last Supper took place.
“We discovered that more than 30 tombstones and crosses were smashed to pieces,” Hosam Naoum, an Anglican bishop, told journalists at the cemetery.
Church authorities said the damage was discovered on Tuesday, while security camera footage from January 1 showed two men or boys vandalizing the site while wearing Jewish attire.
“These criminal acts were motivated by religious bigotry and hatred against Christians,” the Episcopal Diocese of in Al-Quds said in a statement.
The occupying regime’s police said they had launched an investigation into “the defacement of a large number of tombstones in the Protestant cemetery”.
Standing before one of the damaged graves, Naoum said: “We are not only dismayed but we are very much saddened.”
The bishop said the cemetery was established in the mid-19th century and is the final resting place of figures including clergy, scientists and politicians.
Among them were “people of great importance that have contributed to the history of Al-Quds and to the life of the people here,” he said.
In December 2021, church leaders warned that “Christians have become the target of frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups” in Al-Quds and the wider Holy Land.
The statement criticized inaction by the Zionist regime and local officials.
Tensions have flared since Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as the regime’s prime minister, inaugurating the most far-right, conservative cabinet in history of the regime.
Far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Tuesday entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Al-Quds, in a move Palestinians called a “deliberate provocation”.
The minister, widely regarded as a provocateur, has previously called for the displacement of Palestinians.