Leaders from the Anglican Church, the Church of England and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs are condemning acts of vandalism that left more than 30 graves at a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem desecrated.
The site – the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion – is located near Jerusalem’s Old City and has over two dozen graves, including those of well-known Christian figures such as the second Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Samuel Gobat.
No arrests have been made yet, but the suspects are believed to be religious Jews since a camera caught two men wearing kippahs vandalizing the site. They were also seen wearing knotted fringes called tzitzit on their clothes.
The Anglican Church argued that the vandalism was “motivated by religious bigotry and hatred against Christians.”
“This is only an indication that we are not in a place where people can tolerate each other or accept each other,” Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum told BBC. “We see more exclusion, more segregation, and that is what really grieves us in this city of Jerusalem.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby denounced the vandalism, calling it “a blasphemous act.”
“I join the Chief Rabbi and religious leaders in Jerusalem in condemning it and hope those responsible will be brought swiftly to justice,” Welby said in a statement. “As we continue to pray for peace in the Holy Land, I stand with Archbishop Hosam Naoum and other Jerusalem church leaders in calling for respect, protection, equality and justice for its Christian community – who are the Living Stones of the church.”
Welby is the top cleric in the Church of England.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the vandalism of the Christian cemetery.
“This immoral act is an affront to religion, and the perpetrators should be prosecuted,” it tweeted.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) asserted that they were “appalled” by the recent vandalism at the grave site.
“A very small number of CWGC headstones were damaged. We are cooperating closely with the authorities on the matter, and our in-country staff are already working to carry out full repairs and return the graves to their normal condition,” a spokesperson for CWGC told the BBC.