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The New Arab

Arab-Christian graves vandalised in northern Israel

Christians are today minorities in many of Israel and Palestine's traditionally Christian towns [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 1 December, 2016

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Unknown assailants target a Christian burial site in an Arab town in Galilee, leaving Arabic graffiti and damaged headstones.
An Arab-Christian cemetery was vandalised with offensive graffiti on Wednesday in the northern Israeli region of Galilee.

Authorities say they have launched an investigation into the incident that occurred in the Arab town of Kafr Yasif, according to Israel's Channel 10 News.

Images posted online appear to show smashed headstones that had been broken by the vandals, who reportedly defaced the site with Arabic graffiti.

Tensions between Muslims and Christians in Israel have in recent decades come to the fore due to several developments, including the construction of a mosque near Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation.

After pressure from the Vatican, the mosque's construction was halted in early 2002.

Right-wing Jewish extremists have also repeatedly targeted the country's Christian communities.

In January, Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey was vandalised by extremists who spray painted "Christians to Hell," and "Death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel" in Hebrew on the church's walls.

Images posted online showed the damaged headstones in Kafr Yasif [YouTube screenshot]

At present, Israel's Christians account for just 1.9 percent of the country's population, while continuing to dwindle. Many traditionally Christian-majority cities in Israel are now largely populated by adherents of other faiths. Such is the case in Nazereth, where the pre-1948 Christian majority contrasts the present situation where around 70 percent of the population is Muslim.

In Bethlehem, the city where Jesus Christ is said to have been born, Christian exodus from the historic city has meant that adherents of the faith now make up barely a third of its population.

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