cemetary vandal christian
© Ammar Awad/ReutersSome of the damage caused by Israeli settlers at the Protestant cemetery at Mount Zion. The Jewish supremacist rhetoric of the far-right government has reportedly emboldened extremist settler attacks against Palestinian Christians.
Israeli extremists have increased their attacks on Palestinian Christians and Christian institutions in occupied East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, with police doing little to stop violent incidents, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

Church leaders say the spike in violence can be attributed to the Jewish supremacist rhetoric of the current far-right government, whose ministers have called for Palestinian villages to be "wiped out" and even denied the existence of a Palestinian people.

On top of this, locals who spoke with Haaretz say the police "do not treat the situation seriously enough and refuse to identify the growing list of violent incidents as a trend."

An Armenian priest says he has been spat on "more than 90 times" since the start of the year. Most of the reported incidents took place in the Old City of Jerusalem.

According to John Munayer, director of international engagement at Jerusalem's Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue, Armenian churches are the target of most attacks due to their proximity to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

"The believers suffer spitting, pushing, blows on the head and curses, occasionally graffiti is sprayed, and there are more serious attacks inside the churches. People think twice whether to walk through this alley or the other," Munayer told Haaretz.

"If in the past people would spit without being seen, now they spit openly. It is no longer something that is done in secret," said Christian scholar Yisca Harani.

Palestinian Christians are subject to continuous discrimination and violence by Israeli forces and extremist settlers.

Last week, an Israeli settler of Christian origin went on a rampage in the church on the Mount of Olives and threatened people with an iron rod. In February, a statue of Jesus in the Church of the Flagellation was knocked down and defaced. Just days later, extremist settlers in the Armenian Quarter attacked Armenian priests carrying a cross.

Israeli hate crimes in occupied East Jerusalem made international headlines in January when men wearing Jewish religious clothing were caught on camera smashing crosses and knocking down headstones on more than 30 graves.

Palestinian Christians make up only one percent of Jerusalem residents today. Their numbers began to drop significantly following the 1967 occupation, as Tel Aviv confiscated at least 30 percent of their land.

Violence against Palestinian Muslims has also seen a spike in recent years in occupied East Jerusalem, mainly by extremist settler raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli troops.