Theophilos III

Israel Police report two teenage boys have been arrested in connection with the vandalism of Mount Zion Cemetery – the Anglican cemetery in Jerusalem. On 6 January 2023 the police released an announcement by twitter saying two young men, aged 18 and 14 who were non Jerusalem residents had been arrested on the evening of 5 January and charged with vandalism.

On 31 December 2022 two men wearing kippot (Jewish skullcaps) and Tzitzits (knotted ritual or tassels) below their shirts were filmed by security cameras toppling tombstones and smashing memorials at the Mount Zion Cemetery owned by the Church Missionary Trust Association. Among the graves destroyed was that of the Rt. Rev. Samuel Gobat, the second Anglican bishop in Jerusalem.

On 4 January 2023, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s press office released a statement saying:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the desecration of Christian graves in Jerusalem on Sunday as “a blasphemous act”. The archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Rev. Hosam Naom, urged the police to quickly apprehend the suspects.

Sectarian vandalism and “violent acts of defilement against sacred sites” must be halted, “thereby helping to promote an environment of safety, mutual respect, and religious tolerance in this Holy City that is held in reverence by all three of the Abrahamic Faiths” the Archbishop Naom wrote on 4 January.

Jerusalem District Commander, Superintendent Doron Turgeman, met with the Greek Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem on the 5th to assume him the police would move quickly in this case. He told Theopoulos III, “Any damage to religious institutions and sites is serious and damages the unique and delicate fabric of life that exists in the city for members of all religions and denominations” – the press statement said.

Israel police tweeted their investigation was on-going and forensic evidence was being collected at the scene of the crime. The case continues.