A day after flames scorched a West Bank mosque, a Jerusalem seminary belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church was torched and defaced Thursday — an act police suspect is the work of radical right-wing Israelis.
Both buildings were defaced with anti-Arab and anti-Christian slurs, including graffiti maligning Jesus on the seminary, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri. And in each case, there was writing in Hebrew referring to the “redemption of Zion” and “revenge.”
The acts drew strong condemnation.
“There is no room for such deplorable activity in Jerusalem,” Mayor Nir Barkat said Thursday. “We must eradicate this behavior and bring those responsible to justice.”
Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi called the acts “hate crimes (that) constitute a flagrant attack on all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian.”
“These are not isolated incidents, but rather they fit a longstanding pattern of deliberate provocation, extremism and violence, and are a vicious assault on all Palestinians and their holy sites,” Ashrawi said. “The recent events indicate that a holy war is already being waged against the Palestinian Muslim and Christian population.”
A possible ‘price tag’ attack
The incident at the mosque may be a “price tag” attack — a term used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal attacks against Palestinians in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts — according to officials. In fact, video from the West Bank shows two letters that translate to PT, for “price tag.”
And authorities suspect a Jewish nationalist motive for what happened at the Greek Orthodox seminary.
Samri, the Israeli police spokeswoman, said that firefighters managed to douse the fire in that building’s restroom and showers before anyone was injured.
But not much more is known than that.
Shortly after the incident, a Jerusalem district court issued a gag order that covered all details of the investigation and anything that identifies suspects.