More than 30 Christian graves vandalised in Jerusalem cemetery

More than 30 Christian graves have been vandalised in a Jerusalem cemetery - some of them British Commonwealth War Graves.

Headstones were toppled, iconography destroyed, and graves smashed, in an incident at around 3.20pm on Sunday afternoon.

CCTV covering a part of the cemetery shows two young men carrying out the attack, at one stage throwing chunks of marble at a notable grave and seemingly targeting certain graves.

The Jerusalem Protestant Cemetery, in the grounds of The Jerusalem University College on Mount Zion, was founded in 1848 and maintained by local communities.

It contains the graves of 77 military personnel, four of whom died shortly after the First World War, and 73 men of the Palestine Police who were killed during the Second World War.

It is also the burial place of many senior Christian leaders including Samuel Gobat, the former Bishop of Jerusalem.

Israeli police are investigating the violence and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has said it will carry out damage assessments to begin repair work.

The president of the university, Oliver Hersey, said in a statement: "The Mount Zion Police Department is working with staff at Jerusalem University College to identify two young men caught on security cameras throwing large pieces of marble crosses at headstones, in an effort to restore peace and safety to those residing in the Mount Zion community."

Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against increasing violence against Christians

In December 2021, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other senior Christian leaders spoke out about increasing violence against Christians in Jerusalem, who had become "the target of frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups".

Their statement said the tactics were being used "in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land".

Fewer than 100,000 Christians now live in the Old City, the site of The Last Supper and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was allegedly crucified.