Holy Land Catholic leaders say Israel failing to prevent attacks on churches

(Photo: REUTERS / Ammar Awad)Israeli Arabs protest against the recent attack on a mosque in the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm April 21, 2014. On April 18, the door of a mosque in the city was set on fire, and graffiti reading: "Arabs out" was sprayed outside. The protest was held against attacks on holy places of Muslims and Christians in Israel and the West Bank, calling on the Israeli police to take action.

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land has accused the Israeli government of failing to prevent attacks by Jewish extremists on Christian holy sites in Palestinian territories.

"The Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land report and condemn with great concern three major acts of vandalism and profanation against Christian sites in Galilee on April 27," the Catholic leadership body said in a statement Wednesday.

It said the day of the attacks is "highly significant for the universal and local church with the canonization of two popes, and just a month prior to the visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land."

The Catholic assembly said one of its bishops in Nazareth had received threats they said was signed by a rabbi received a message two days ago from a suspected Jewish extremist.

They said the letter included references from the Torah "against foreign work in the Land of Israel, which is the Holy Land," noting "Christians are foreign workers."

The letter further ordered the church clerics and all Christians to "leave the Land of Israel."

The Catholic leaders said that following an enquiry a Nazareth police officer said that the suspected rabbi was at arrested in nearby Safed the following day.

"Together with the Assembly of Ordinaries, Christians of Galilee, feel deeply worried by such acts, and ask the civil and police authorities to forcefully react by arresting the suspected persons, in order to restore mutual religious respect," the statement said.

World Bulletin reported Thursday that vandals had defaced a northern Freidis mosque two days earlier, spray-painting the Star of David, the symbol associated with Israel - on the walls of the building.

The news site said Israeli authorities had earlier announced that they were investigating an extremist Jewish group called "Price Tag" for possible connections with the mosque attack.

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