Vandals set fire to the entrance door of the Latrun Monastery early Tuesday and spray-painted slogans against the Christian religion on its walls, including names of West Bank outposts and "Jesus is a monkey".
The Jerusalem District Police launched an investigation into the incident.
The monastery's wooden door caught fire. The abbot, Father Louie, told Ynet: "At around 3:30 am, a monk sleeping in one of the guest rooms heard a noise, went outside and saw the door burning. He entered our rooms and began shouting and waking us up.
"I went outside and saw the entire door on fire. He put out the fire with an extinguisher we had. If he hadn't done that, everything would have caught fire."
Names of outposts on monastery's walls (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The monastery's guard, Elias, called the police. "I didn't see anything," he said. "At around 3:30 am I drove by and didn't see anything suspicious. Ten minutes later I saw the door on fire and the graffiti.
"I'm sure that whoever did it came from the olive grove because the gate isn't high there and one can easily jump over it. Unfortunately, there are no security cameras here."
The monks appeared very offended by the incident.
"I know there is some tension, but I don't understand why it has to do with us," said Father Louie. "We're Christians and we have nothing to do with it. We try to do everything with love. We are saddened by this incident. It's a shame that some people are unwilling to live with and accept people who are different."
Latrun Monastery (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Acting Jerusalem District Police Commander Meni Yitzhaki visited the monastery on Tuesday morning.
"We've appointed a special investigation team to look into the incident," he said. "We are taking it very seriously and view it as extremely severe. This is the reason I have come here. We'll catch the vandals and handle the situation with other security elements. We are very sorry about this incident."
"This monastery has many visitors," noted the guard, Elias. "People come in all the time. The monks go to sleep early and no one noticed a thing. Whoever did this has no God, they just say they do."
The police have been preparing for "price tag" actions by extreme right-wing activists, which are usually directed at Palestinians, following the evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Migron in recent days.
The targeting of a Christian symbol has the potential of making waves in the Western world, which is widely covering the situation in Jerusalem and its surroundings.
This isn't the first time a Christian site has been the target of such an operation. In February, vandals daubed
"Death to Christianity" on a Jerusalem church and slashed the tires of three vehicles parked nearby.