Evicted settlers blamed for attack on monastery

Right-wing Israelis sought after 'revenge' for court-ordered clearance of Migron settlement

Jerusalem

Police were searching yesterday for right-wing Israeli activists suspected of having set fire to the doorway of a Christian monastery and spray-painted its walls with Hebrew slogans including one saying: "Jesus is a monkey."

The incident bore all the hallmarks of a so-called "price tag" vengeance attack for the Supreme Court-ordered evacuation earlier in the week of the illegal Migron settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank. The outpost's name was one of the words sprayed on a wall.

Monks noticed the burning door yesterday morning, and called police after putting out the flames. Surveying the damage from the pre-dawn attack yesterday, a shocked Father Paul Saouma, the Latrun Monastery's abbot, said: "Not nice. What can I say? What can I say?"

It is the first attack at the 122-year-old monastery, which stands on West Bank land annexed by Israel after the Six Day War. But it follows similar attacks against Jerusalem's Monastery of the Cross and a Baptist church in the city centre in February. Most Christian laity on both sides of the pre-June 1967 "green line" are Arab.

Paying a solidarity visit to the monastery yesterday, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, leader of Israel's Reform Jewish movement, called the attack an "ugly event" and added: "As a rabbi and as an Israeli citizen I am ashamed today and I am deeply troubled by the fact that this is not the first time that such an event takes place in Israel."

The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said later: "This is a criminal act and those responsible must be severely punished. Religious freedom and worship are two of the most basic institutions in Israel." But Baruch Marzel, an extremist settler from Hebron, said: "We said that evacuating Migron could fan the flames. There's an entire community that feels very bitter." Saeb Erekat, a leading Palestinian negotiator, meanwhile accused the Israeli authorities of not doing enough to track down the offenders in "price tag" attacks.

The Migron evacuation on Sunday – largely peaceful despite attempts by some young right-wing activists to disrupt it – followed a decade-long legal battle by civil rights groups and the Palestinian owners of the land to see it removed.

The community of 50 families was identified in a 2005 government report as top of the list of outposts, effectively new micro-settlements, which had no legal authority even under Israeli law but nevertheless benefited from state money for infrastructure and security.

While the evacuation was hailed as a vindication of the rule of law, the terms provide for the residents to be moved to new homes – also illegal under international law – which unlike Migron itself are not on privately owned Palestinian land but are still in occupied territory. In the meantime, they will be housed in temporary accommodation at a nearby winery at a cost of £114,000 per family.

After the Migron evacuation, Mr Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to the settlement enterprise in the West Bank, declaring: "We honour court orders and we also strengthen the settlements; there is no contradiction between the two."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?