A ransacked Maronite Christian community center in northern Israel

Members of the Maronite Christian community discovered on Wednesday, the day after the holiday season, that their community center had been vandalized.

Religious representations and material were ransacked in the community center, located in the city of Maalot-Tarshiha, in the north of the country, which is home to a Maronite community of 250 people.

“I went there around 6:15 p.m. to prepare for prayers, and I saw that everything had been destroyed, was messy and broken. We immediately called the municipality and the police, who came, took photos and opened an investigation,” community spokesman Rody Elias Noura told the newspaper. Times of Israel.

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He explained that these acts of vandalism were only noticed on Wednesday, because of the end of the year holidays, during which the members of the congregation leave for two weeks to join other Maronite Christian communities.

Elias Noura said he did not know who could be behind the attack on the recently redecorated community center.

“There’s no one we’ve argued with, we haven’t bothered anyone and no one has bothered us,” he said, adding that “it happened suddenly…everything is destroyed.”

The word “revenge” graffitied in Hebrew on a wall in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on January 11, 2022. (Armenian Patriarchate)

In a statement, the Maronite Archdiocese of the Holy Land condemned “acts of destruction and all forms of physical and verbal aggression against any person, property, religion or belief. »

“All the more so when these attacks on individual liberty are directed at groups that seek to build a healthy society and pass on good values ​​to future generations,” the statement concludes.

In a separate incident, the Armenian community in Jerusalem was also targeted by vandals on Wednesday, in which numerous discriminatory inscriptions were plastered on the facades of buildings in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City.

According to the Armenian Patriarchate, graffiti in the neighborhood included the words “revenge”, “death to Christians”, “death to Arabs and Gentiles” and “death to Armenians”.

Last week, two teenagers were arrested after ransacking around 30 graves at a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem.

Desecrated headstones in the Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem on January 3, 2022. (Israel Police)

The announcement of this arrest came after international condemnations of these acts of vandalism, particularly from the United States.

Security camera footage shared repeatedly showed two young men – both wearing Jewish yarmulkes and tzitzit, the ritual knotted bangs worn by observant Jews – entering the cemetery, knocking over stone crosses and smashing and stomping tombstones, leaving behind a trail of debris and broken tombstones.

In December 2021, Christian leaders in the Holy Land warned that their communities were threatened with being driven out of the region by Israeli extremist groups and called for dialogue to preserve their presence.

For years, extremist Jewish activists have carried out acts of vandalism against Christian sites in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, including hate graffiti and arson. These extremists are also attacking the Palestinians.

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A ransacked Maronite Christian community center in northern Israel