A Trappist monk looks at graffiti which was sprayed on the wall of the Latrun monastery, on September 4, 2012
A picture taken on September 4, 2012 shows a Trappist monk looking at graffiti which was sprayed on the wall of the Latrun monastery. A court has extended the remand of an Israeli man arrested on suspicion of vandalising the Catholic monastery in an attack that shocked the Holy Land's religious and political establishment. © Menahem Kahana - AFP/File
A Trappist monk looks at graffiti which was sprayed on the wall of the Latrun monastery, on September 4, 2012
AFP
Last updated: July 2, 2013

Israeli held after 2012 monastery price tag attack

Israeli police on Tuesday arrested a second suspect in connection with a vandalism attack on a Catholic monastery last year, a spokesman said.

During the incident, which took place in September 2012, vandals set fire to the door of the Trappist monastery in Latrun and scrawled "Jesus is a monkey" on a nearby wall in an attack which shocked the religious and political establishment.

The perpetrators also scrawled the names of several settlement outposts on a nearby wall, the hallmark of a so-called "price tag" hate crime carried out by Jewish extremists.

One man was arrested in connection with the attack on Sunday and following his interrogation, police were tipped off about a second suspect who was arrested earlier on Tuesday, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

"A second suspect was arrested early this morning in connection with vandalism at the monastery in Latrun," he said, without giving his name or age.

Rosenfeld said the suspect was from the Beit El settlement near Ramallah and was due to appear before Rishon LeTzion Magistrates Court later in the day.

On Monday, the same court had extended by four days the remand in custody of the first suspect, 22-year-old Moshe Orbach from Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv.

The Trappist abbey of Latrun lies just inside the West Bank, very close to the 1949 armistice line, and is one of the most famous monastic sites of the Holy Land.

"Price tag" attacks normally target Palestinians and Arabs and tend to involve the torching and vandalism of cars, mosques and olive trees.

But over the last few years, the attacks have widened in scope to include Christian churches and graveyards, anti-settlement activists and even, on occasion, the Israeli army.

Last year, police opened 623 files on price tag attacks, arrested 200 people and served 123 indictments, official figures show.

However, the police have never given a figure for how many people had actually been convicted of such attacks, with the number thought to be very low.

At the time, the Latrun attack was condemned by top Jewish and Catholic officials, by the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and by Washington and Paris.

Last month, Israel increased the powers of the security establishment to crack down on the perpetrators of such attacks, outlawing them as belonging to an "illegal organisation."

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon on Monday also pledged a tougher crackdown on the "price taggers."

"This is a severe phenomenon involving indiscriminate acts of violence against Arabs, damaging their property and risking lives, in order to prevent the Israeli government from acting a certain way," he said in a statement.

"We must toughen the punishments these outlaws gets, since the results of their actions are disastrous."

Meanwhile, police also arrested three Israeli football fans late on Monday after they attacked two Arab workers at a McDonald's takeaway in the city, a spokeswoman said.

They were due to appear before Jerusalem Magistrate's Court later on Tuesday.

© AFP 2013

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