The Israeli police say they have arrested a Jewish youth suspected of scrawling anti-Christian graffiti this week at a famous Jerusalem church.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Wednesday the 16-year-old was arrested just two days after the vandalism was discovered on Sunday at the Dormition Abbey, where Christian tradition says the Virgin Mary died.

The graffiti included threats of violence, messages degrading Jesus and a call for Christians to "go to hell."

It's a swifter than usual Israeli arrest in a case involving suspected Jewish extremist vandalism on Christian property. The Dormition Abbey, a Benedictine monastery just outside Jerusalem's Old City, has been the target of multiple attacks in recent years.

Israel's Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, said he instructed police to give the vandalism case top priority.