On the morning of January 3, 2023, it was discovered that, sometime over the New Year holidays, vandals had broken into the historic Protestant cemetery on Mt. Zion, where they purposely and relentlessly smashed more than thirty gravestones, many of them historic.
Security camera footage later revealed that these crimes took place beginning around 15:20 on January 1st, and that the perpetrators numbered at least two, both young males wearing kippahs and tallit katans.
Among the obliterated tombstones was one containing the bust of the Right Reverend Samuel Gobat, the second Protestant Bishop in Jerusalem and founder of the adjoining Jerusalem University College, formally known as the Gobat School.
Three commonwealth graves of Palestinian police officers were among those destroyed. Many stone crosses were also the targets of the vandals, clearly indicating that these criminal acts were motivated by religious bigotry and hatred against Christians.
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem condemns these wanton acts of desecration and calls for the relevant authorities to search for, apprehend, and prosecute the perpetrators of these terroristic crimes to the fullest extent of the law, including those laws pertaining to hate crimes.
We welcome the supportive words expressed by President Herzog, Chief Rabbi Mirvis, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and invite other political and religious leaders both in Jerusalem and around the world to join in condemning and combatting these and other such violent acts of defilement against sacred sites, 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.