Vandals attack Jerusalem monastery, school

00:00 Feb 7 2012 Monastery of the Cross, Jerusalem

JERUSALEM—Vandals attacked a monastery in Jerusalem and a prominent school with a mixed Jewish-Arab student body on Tuesday, and police said they suspected Jewish extremists were behind the violence.

"Death to Christians" and other Hebrew-language graffiti were scrawled on the Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem, while "Death to Arabs" was sprayed across a wall outside the bilingual "Hand in Hand" school in another part of the city.

Israeli police said they were investigating both incidents. Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that "price tag" was also painted at the monastery -- a reference to a practice of Jewish extremists who lash out against the Israeli government for actions against settlers.

Such acts usually target West Bank mosques but have recently expanded to include a mosque inside Israel, Israeli military bases, and now, a Christian holy site and a school.

Israel's Army Radio reported that "Maccabees of Migron" was painted on the monastery, too. Maccabees were ancient Jewish heroes, and Migron is an unauthorized settlement facing a court-ordered evacuation next month.

In the West Bank, Palestinians said "Mohammed is a pig" and other hateful slogans were also found spray-painted near a gas station of an Arab village. Rosenfeld had no information about that incident.

Hard-line settlers believe Israel has a God-given right to the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967, and reject Palestinian claims to those lands.

Extremists, believed to be young Jewish settlers, have carried out dozens of attacks on Palestinians over the past two years, chopping down olive trees, vandalizing agricultural land and setting fire to mosques. Few arrests have been made.

The Abraham Fund Initiatives, which operates educational coexistence projects between Jewish and Arab citizens, condemned the graffiti at the Jerusalem school, one of the few places in the city where Jews and Arabs work and study together.

"The political violence against Arab citizens, dubbed 'price tag,' is aimed this time toward education for shared living between Arabs and Jews in Israel," it said. "This is an attack on a place that represents the wish of Arabs and Jews to build together a better future for their children."

Also Tuesday, Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who is on a 53-day hunger strike, was sentenced to four months in prison, according to his lawyer.

Tamar Peleg-Sryck said a military court informed her of Adnan's sentence but did not tell her what he was convicted of.

Adnan, who was arrested about two months ago, belongs to Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group that killed dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks. It is not clear whether he participated in violence.

Adnan's wife Randa said her husband fears he will die and that he is protesting against beatings, insults and Israeli policy.

Prisons spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Adnan is under guard and medical supervision at a civilian hospital where doctors say he is in good condition.

The Israeli military declined comment.
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