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Israel monastery firebombed in suspected hate crime

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A Trappist monk walks between Hebrew graffiti sprayed on the wall of the Christian Catholic Latrun monastery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on September 4, 2012. Unknown assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a Roman Catholic monastery in Israel and scrawled racist graffiti on its walls, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday, in a suspected hate crime. (AFP/File)

Unknown assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a Roman Catholic monastery in Israel and scrawled racist graffiti on its walls, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday, in a suspected hate crime.

"A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the wall of the Beit Jamal monastery, near Beit Shemesh," in central Israel, Luba Samri said in a statement, adding that "it caught fire."

"Hebrew graffiti was also scrawled on the monastery walls, reading 'Gentiles perish' and 'revenge,'" she added.

According to Samri, the attack most likely took place overnight Monday.

"Police were investigating all directions, including nationalistic motivation," she said.

In past years, Christian sites in Israel have been targets of hate crimes by suspected Jewish extremists. These incidents come in addition to attacks against mosques, which have been linked to the "price tag" campaign of Israeli extremists opposed to state moves to dismantle unauthorised settler outposts.

Initially carried out against Palestinians in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorised settler outposts in the occupied territories, "price tag" attacks became a much broader phenomenon with racist and xenophobic traits.