Israeli police arrest Jerusalem abbey vandal

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police arrested a man on Tuesday who vandalized a wooden cross and a statue at the Jerusalem abbey where Christian tradition says the Virgin Mary died.

Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the 21-year-old jumped over a fence into the grounds of the Dormition Abbey and damaged a wooden cross and a bench before a security guard apprehended him and called police.

Abbey spokesman Father Nikodemus said the vandal damaged statues on the abbey grounds including one that marked the grave of the only monk with Israeli citizenship. He said that is unusual as the abbey was founded by German Kaiser Wilhelm II and all the monks are traditionally from German-speaking countries.

The Benedictine abbey is a popular site for pilgrims and tourists. It has been damaged several times in recent years. The vandals are believed to be from the same group of Jewish extremists who have carried out a spate of similar attacks in recent years in retaliation for Palestinian attacks or to protest what they perceive as pro-Palestinian policies by the government.

Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even army bases have been targeted.

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