Leaders speak out after attacks on Christian holy sites in Israel

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JERUSALEM (AP) — After attacks by vandals on Christian holy sites in Israel, Roman Catholic officials are beginning to speak out, appealing to authorities to take a stronger stand against the violence.

The Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa said he is worried about relations between Jews and Christians in the Holy Land. He believes the blame can go all around. "I think the main atmosphere is ignorance," he said.

Because the local Christian population is tiny, "we do not exist for the majority ... They have other priorities," he said.

That may be changing following an attack on a well-known Trappist Monastery in Latrun, outside Jerusalem. Vandals burned a door and spray-painted anti-Christian graffiti on the century-old building with the words "Jesus is a monkey." Suspicion has fallen on extremist Jewish West Bank settlers or their supporters.

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