Israeli extremists vandalize church ahead of pope visit
Extremist Israeli settlers have vandalized a church in the southern city of Beersheba ahead of a visit by Pope Francis to Palestine.
Israeli police said the outside walls of the church were sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti on Friday.
Security officials suspect that the move is the latest in a series of hate crimes, with Israeli extremists as the main suspects.
They say there has been a recent spate of hate crimes, mainly in the form of vandalism and graffiti, targeting churches and mosques.
Christian leaders have condemned the recent anti-Christian hate crimes by Israeli extremists.
Israeli settlers also regularly carry out price tag raids against Palestinians and their properties.
Price tag attacks are acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinian properties as well as Islamic holy sites.
The United Nations has recorded “399 attacks” of this kind by Israeli settlers, which have “resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.”
Earlier this month, the former chief of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, said Tel Aviv does not stop the “price tag” attacks against Palestinian properties, because it lacks the desire to do so.
“We don’t see results because we don’t have the intention to,” Carmi Gillon said, adding that in the Shin Bet “there’s no such thing as can’t – there’s don’t want to.”
The Pope will begin a three-day visit to Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories later on Saturday.