JERUSALEM -- As several thousand Christians from around the world gathered in Jerusalem on Tuesday for an annual pro-Israel conference, Jewish extremists are believed to have vandalized a Mt. Zion monastery, the latest in a string of attacks against churches in Israel.
Police said the Monastery of St. Francis, located near where Christians believe the Last Supper was held, was spray-painted with graffiti written in Hebrew expressing support for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and using obscenities to refer to Jesus Christ.
Both Israeli and Palestinian officials condemned the attack, which police suspected was carried out by Jewish extremists. It was the second case of vandalism against a Christian institution in a month.
In September, a Trappist monastery in Latrun near Jerusalem was attacked by vandals who set the front door on fire and spray-painted “Jesus is a monkey" on the outside walls.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said such attacks were counter to the Jewish religion. “Holy sites must not be harmed," he said in a statement.
The attack comes as more than 3,000 Christian visitors gathered in Jerusalem’s convention center for the annual chairman’s conference of the Israel Allies Caucus Foundation, co-sponsored by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. This year’s event, which seeks to galvanize Christian support for Israel, included lawmakers and government officials from around the world.
-- Edmund Sanders