Arsonists early Wednesday morning set fire to a Christmas tree standing outside a church in the Arab city of Sakhnin in northern Israel, the third such incident in a week.
Graffiti in Arabic reading “except the Prophet Mohammed” was scrawled on the wall outside the St. Joseph Church.
The phrase was used by Muslim protesters in France demonstrating against cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet.
On Friday night, a tree placed near the Catholic Church and the other outside the Orthodox Church in the city were also set on fire.
Both churches filed a complaint, and the police collected findings from two crime scenes and launched an investigation into the incidents.
No suspects have been arrested in either of the incidents.
Some Christian leaders in Israel decried the incidents as “acts of terrorism.”
TPS has learned from sources that Muslim elements were behind the incidents but was unable to verify the claims. The graffiti lends credence to this report.
Christmas trees and symbols have been the target of Muslim attacks in the past.
A number of shots were fired by anonymous assailants at a church in Judeide Maker on Christmas eve 2019 at an Israeli-Arab village near Acre in the north. No one was injured in the shooting incident.
The attack occurred just a few days after unknown persons burned the Christmas tree that was placed at the entrance to the church.
Residents of the village told TPS that they believe the attacks were religiously-motivated hate crimes.
While the arson event was attributed to a children’s prank, the shooting incident was attributed by residents to extremist Islamic activists and has raised serious concerns among Christians.