Vandals spray-painted profanities on the entrance to and on three vehicles belonging to the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem overnight Tuesday in the latest in a spate of so-called "price-tag" attacks on Christian institutions in Israel over the past year.
The vandalism at the church is the second such attack on the site this year, with a similar attack occurring some ten months ago. In both cases, police have made no arrests.
The Orthodox Greek church, which lies in Jerusalem's Valley of the Cross close to Sacher Park in Rehavia, also had graffiti spray-painted on its entrance which read: "Jesus is a son of a bitch" and "Jesus is an ape."
The cars were spray-painted with the messages: "Victory of the Maccabees, and Happy Holidays."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the vandalism, saying in a statement that the perpetrators' actions did not reflect the Jewish people as a whole. "It goes against Jewish values we have been raised on and the values we pass on to our children," Netanyahu said Wednesday. "The continued freedom of worship for all religions in Israel will be safeguarded and we will make sure the lowly vandals are brought to justice," he said.
Israel's Religious Services Minister Yakov Margi denounced the attack but said he would not visit the church because his office is not responsible for religions other than Judaism.
By mid-morning Wednesday the graffiti was removed. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the attack was an attempt to disrupt the religious coexistence in the city.
Father Claudius, who runs the church, confirmed the vandalism and mentioned that a similar attack occurred ten months ago at the exact same place.
"I forgive those who did this and I say Happy Hanukkah. I am not angry. I believe in peace and the love of the religious people. The people who did this have no peace in their hearts," the father told Israel Radio.
Jerusalem police said they have launched an investigation. "This is a cowardly act carried out by individuals in the dead of night," a police official told Israel Radio.
This attack is the latest in a series of attacks against Christians in Israel over the past several months in which police have made no arrests.