Israel police arrested five people on Wednesday on suspicion of spitting on Christians or churches in Jerusalem’s Old City, they announced, following a scandal a day earlier over Orthodox Jews spitting on Christian pilgrims.
Four of the suspects were arrested for incidents on Wednesday and one for an incident earlier in the week, police said. Four are adults and one is a minor.
One of the individuals was arrested on assault charges and the other four were arrested on suspicion of unlawful conduct, Israel Police told CNN. The accused of assault spit on one person, while the others spit on people, police said to explain the different charges.
One of the arrests is related to Monday’s viral video of ultra-Orthodox Jews spitting on Christian pilgrims carrying a cross outside the Church of the Flagellation in the Old City, police said.
Father Matteo, a priest in the Old City, told CNN on Wednesday that there were sometimes 10 spitting incidents a day near his monastery along the Via Dolorosa, the path Christians believe Jesus walked to his death. crucifixion, and people call it “an impure place.” ”
The priest said such incidents were not a problem for him, but they were for the spitters: “Because when people grow up hating and despising everyone else… it’s really very sad for them.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Tuesday “strongly condemning any attempt to inflict harm on the faithful.”
“Israel is fully committed to safeguarding the sacred right to freedom of worship and pilgrimage to the holy sites of all religions,” he said, pledging “urgent measures against such actions.” “Offensive behavior towards the faithful is a desecration and is unacceptable.”
On Wednesday, the Israel Police announced the establishment of a special investigation team, the expansion of overt and covert operations and the consideration of imposing fines.
The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry said the spitting was part of a broader problem leading to physical violence.
“The practice of spitting on non-Jews reflects the spread of extremism in Israeli society, especially among extremist settlers, and is an expression of an attitude that begins with spitting and then develops into beatings and murders,” the ministry said in a statement. Wednesday.
Jerusalem Police District Commander Doron Turgeman said police would not tolerate “expressions of hatred toward anyone, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian, in the Old City or anywhere else in Jerusalem.”
Referring to the “spitting of extremists,” Turgeman said: “Those who engage in such actions have a serious problem, primarily in their education, worldview and respect for others.”
He said many of the spitters were children and called for “significant and immediate involvement of educational, religious and parental authorities… [to] make it clear that these actions are prohibited, unacceptable and shameful.”
On Tuesday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau strongly condemned “harm to any person and any religious leader. These immoral phenomena certainly have nothing to do with Jewish law.”