Vatican calls on Israel to safeguard holy sites

JERUSALEM — The Roman Catholic official in charge of the Vatican’s properties in the Holy Land on Thursday urged Israel to safeguard Christian holy sites, following a number of vandalism attacks on churches and monasteries ahead of a visit by Pope Francis.

Vandals have recently scribbled anti-Arab and anti-Christian graffiti on several Christian holy sites and properties, including an attack this week on the Vatican’s Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency says it fears there could be similar attacks as the pope’s visit approaches at the end of the month. He is scheduled to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel from May 24 to 26.

The “Custody of the Holy Land” issued a statement expressing concern about the attacks and said the uptick in violence appeared to be connected to the visit. It called on Israel to “work urgently against extremist elements” to ensure peace and safeguard Christian holy places.

In recent years, vandals believed to be Jewish extremists have attacked mosques, Christian holy sites, Arab properties and even Israeli military bases and vehicles in Israel and the West Bank to protest what they perceive to be the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies. The attacks are known as “price tag.”

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday that police had arrested a 25-year-old Jewish extremist who confessed to involvement in at least 10 vandalism attacks aimed at Arab targets.

Rosenfeld said police have “stepped up” patrols and surveillance across the country, and that thousands of police officers would be deployed during the pope’s visit to ensure it goes smoothly.

More in Local News

Departing mayor’s locally drawn portrait joins city’s pantheon

Artist Elizabeth Person’s portrait of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will hang with others at City Hall.

Inslee proposes tapping reserves, carbon tax in budget plan

The proposal also includes money for the mental health system and efforts to fight opioid addiction.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Counties fed up with unfunded mandates may sue the state

For example, no money has been provided to install, maintain and clear out required ballot boxes.

Inslee budget solves school funding puzzle with piece of carbon

His plan commits to putting another $950 million into the system.

Most Read