Daily Israel Report

Catholics Threatened: 'Leave Israel Or Face Divine Wrath'

Man arrested for sending threatening letter to Nazareth Catholic community, same day as mosque and church vandalized.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/29/2014, 5:52 PM

"Price tag" graffiti outside Jerusalem (file)
"Price tag" graffiti outside Jerusalem (file)
Flash 90

A set of vandalism incidents on a mosque and a church occurred on Tuesday, the same day an Israeli man was arrested on suspicion of sending a threatening letter to the Catholic community of Nazareth.

The man, who is in his 40s, was arrested after allegedly threatened the Roman Catholic Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of Nazareth in a letter, demanding Catholics leave Israel or face G-d's wrath.

"A suspect arrived at (Marcuzzo's) house and delivered a threatening letter," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, noting the suspect was arrested in nearby Tzfat (Safed).

The letter stated that all Christians, "except Protestants and Anglicans," should leave Israel by May 5, and that if Marcuzzo and his followers did not comply, they would all be "killed by the heavens."

Additionally, the letter, which was signed "the Messiah, Son of David," quoted Jewish sources ruling that Christianity is a form of idolatry and should be banned.

The suspect allegedly said the message must be passed through the Catholic community through the media by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, threatening that every hour of delay would "cost the lives of 100 Christian souls."

Vandalism on a mosque and a church

Two other vandalism incidents were reported on Tuesday.

Rosenfeld noted that vandals had written "close mosques and not yeshivas" on the outer wall of a mosque in Fureidis, an Arab-Israeli town near Haifa. He added that the tires of several nearby cars were found slashed.

The reference is likely to the seizure of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, located in Samaria, which border police occupied after clashes in the town between a violent element of residents and the IDF. Residents noted that opposite the yeshiva is a mosque that has had an unfulfilled destruction order from the Supreme Court on it for many years, and demanded to know why authorities weren't similarly seizing other mosques which were used as platforms to encourage incitement against Jews and Israel.

A separate incident of vandalism at the Tabgha church on the shores of the Kinneret Sea was being investigated. Church officials claimed a group of Jewish teenagers had damaged crosses on the site and attacked clergy.

Livni - "they are not part of my people"

Rosenfeld condemned the vandalism, saying "crimes committed for nationalist motives are extremely serious."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni added her criticism of the incidents, writing on Facebook "whoever did these deeds is not part of my people." She promised to "catch and punish" those responsible.

A representative of the Catholic church, Wadie Abu Nassar, criticized the attacks as being "very dangerous," and went on to attack Israel for its supposed "lack of will" to stop the vandalism, saying "the security establishment is not acting sufficiently."

Despite the widespread attention to "price tag" vandalism by Israeli nationalists, aArutz Sheva report in January revealed that in at least some of the cases, anti-Arab "price tags" were being systematically staged by Arab activists. 

There have also been numerous incidents of Arab "price tagging," such as the scrawling of Arabic graffiti praising terrorism in February on the Tomb of Elazar Hacohen, the son of Moses's brother Aaron from the Torah, as well as numerous incidents of desecration of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives. Such cases have received remarkably less public and police attention.