JERUSALEM (TheBlaze/AP) -- Vandals have spray-painted "Death to Christianity" and "Jesus, son of a whore" on a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem. Similar messages were plastered on the outside of another church in the area earlier this year.
The overnight attack on the Monastery of the Cross was the latest in a series of vandalisms of Christian holy sites. Extremist Jews sympathetic to Israel's settlement movement are suspected.
Israeli forensic policemen examine a car sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti reading 'Jesus is a son of a whore' and slashed tires outside of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem on December 12, 2012. Vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on Jerusalem's Monastery and at an Armenian cemetery overnight, police told. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Wednesday the vandals also sprayed "price tag" on the monastery's outer wall -- a form of retribution settlers and their sympathizers use in retaliation for acts they consider to be pro-Palestinian.
Israel Hayom has more:
By mid-morning Wednesday the graffiti was removed. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the attack was an attempt to disrupt the religious coexistence in the city.
Father Claudius, who runs the church, confirmed the vandalism and mentioned that a similar attack occurred ten months ago at the exact same place.
"I forgive those who did this and I say Happy Hanukkah. I am not angry. I believe in peace and the love of the religious people. The people who did this have no peace in their hearts," the father told Israel Radio.
Jerusalem police said they have launched an investigation. "This is a cowardly act carried out by individuals in the dead of night," a police official told Israel Radio.
Greek Orthodox Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, Archimandrite Claudius, looks at a car sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti reading 'price tag' and slashed tires outside his monastery on December 12, 2012. Vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on Jerusalem's Monastery of the Cross and at an Armenian cemetery overnight, police told. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Extremists have carried out similar "price tag" attacks on other churches, mosques and Israeli military bases.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the defacing of the church.
Israel has 155,000 Christian citizens, less than 2 percent of its nearly 8 million people.