Israeli Leaders Decry Vandalism of Jerusalem Church

Israeli leaders have promised to implement a "zero tolerance" policy toward religious discrimination after Jewish extremists vandalized a Christian church in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan condemned the attack on Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey, warning that those who carried out the hateful act will face the full brunt of the law.

"We will not allow anyone to upend the dual-existence between the religions in the State of Israel," Erdan said in a statement on Sunday, according to Israel National News.

"We will act with zero tolerance toward anyone who attacks the democratic foundations of the State of Israel and its freedom of religion and will act to apprehend those who committed this deplorable act," Erdan added.

The Dormition Abbey, located in Jerusalem's Old City on Mount Zion, was vandalized with over 10 anti-Christian slogans scrawled in felt-tipped pen sometime between Saturday and Sunday.

Some of the offensive phrases included "Death to the heathen Christians the enemies of Israel" and "The revenge of the people of Israel is yet to come."

While police are continuing to search for the perpetrators, they believe the act was carried out by Jewish extremist groups.

The phrases were written in Hebrew in several different types of handwriting, leading police to believe multiple people carried out the hateful crime.

This is the second time the Old City church has been attacked in the past year, and church leaders have called on police to do more to catch the perpetrators.

"The inscriptions are not only against Jesus the Messiah, but also call to slaughter the Christians and send them to Hell! How long will these acts of vandalism continue?" the church told YNet News in an interview.

The American Jewish Committee also condemned the attack, with Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's director of International Interreligious Affairs, saying in a statement, "Once again, we are compelled to condemn vandalism of Christian holy sites in Israel, mindful that such acts of hatred not only threaten Christians, but also are a reprehensible affront to our Jewish heritage and contravene Israel's enduring commitment to respect for other religious faiths."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "this act (of vandalism) is worthy of all condemnation."

"There is no room for such acts. Israel is a place where there is freedom of religion, and the only place in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown. The police department is acting to find those responsible for the act," he added, i24 News reported.

The Abbey of the Dormition has been attacked multiple times in the past, including an arson attempt in May 2014 and damage to the church's crucifixes and statues in December 2014.

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