Israel Steps Up Patrols to Stop Hate Graffiti Ahead of Pope Trip

Israeli police are stepping up patrols in Jerusalem, the north and in the West Bank to protect Christian and Muslim sites from vandalism ahead of a visit by Pope Francis this month.

The perpetrators are believed to be mostly minors who are acting “out of boredom,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said by phone. “Instead of going out for a drink, they go spray graffiti.”

Two days ago, anti-Christian graffiti was found near a Romanian church in Jerusalem, and police are investigating the incident. Earlier last week, anti-Christian graffiti was found near the Roman Catholic Notre Dame Center outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Over the last two months, attacks have specifically targeted the Christian community, at a time when it is actively preparing to receive Pope Francis,” the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem wrote on its website. “There is no doubt that behind these crimes is some fanatical and fundamentalist religious, rather than political, ideology.”

The pontiff is due to visit the Holy Land on May 24-26.

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