Vandals spray hate graffiti on convent in Israel

Vandals sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on the walls of a convent west of Jerusalem overnight and damaged vehicles parked nearby, Israeli police said on Tuesday.

Slogans including "Mary is a cow," "price tag" and "America (is) Nazi Germany" were sprayed in Hebrew on the walls of the Roman Catholic sanctuary, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

The Our Lady, Queen of Palestine convent, which was founded before the creation of Israel in 1948, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The vandals also slashed the tyres of five vehicles parked in the compound, Samri added.

The term "price tag" is usually applied to politically motivated attacks by hardline Jewish settlers on Palestinians or their property.

Moshe Dadon, head of the local council for the rural district in which the convent is located, said he was not persuaded that the vandalism was the work of hardline settlers.

"It's unusual, usually they strike at Arabs, not monasteries," Dadon told army radio. "It's quite strange that a convent has been the target in this incident."

Last July, two suspects were arrested in connection with the 2012 torching of the door of a Trappist monastery in Latrun, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the scene of the latest attack.

In the 2012 attack, the arsonists scrawled "Jesus is a monkey" on a nearby wall in an incident that shocked the religious and political establishment.

One of the suspects was a settler and the other a resident of a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood adjoining Tel Aviv.

"Price tag" attacks normally target Palestinians and Arabs and tend to involve acts of vandalism against cars, mosques or olive groves.

But over the past few years, the attacks have widened in scope to include Christian churches and graveyards, anti-settlement activists and even, on occasion, the Israeli army.