Vatican calls on Israel to safeguard holy sites

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Associated Press

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Updated Thursday, May 8 at 4:04 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Roman Catholic official in charge of the Vatican's properties in the Holy Land is urging Israel to safeguard Christian holy sites, following a number of vandalism attacks ahead of a visit by Pope Francis.

Vandals have recently scribbled anti-Arab and anti-Christian graffiti on several churches and monasteries, including on the Vatican's Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem earlier this week.

Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency says it fears there could be similar attacks as the pope's visit approaches at the end of the month.

The "Custody of the Holy Land" issued a statement expressing concern about the attacks and said the uptick in violence appeared to be connected to the visit. It called on Israel to "work urgently against extremist elements" to ensure peace and safeguard Christian holy places.

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