By Abdelraouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – An American tourist on Thursday attacked a church in the Old City of East Jerusalem, said Israeli police.
Eyewitnesses told Anadolu that an "extremist" toppled a statue of Jesus in the Church of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City.
The witnesses added that one of the guards at the church had managed to take control of the extremist before the Israeli police arrived at the church and arrested him.
The Israeli police said in a statement that it "arrested an American tourist suspected of vandalizing a statue in a church in the Old City of Jerusalem."
"The suspect was transferred for interrogation, and the Israeli police opened an investigation into the circumstances of the case," it said, adding that he “may be mentally ill."
"We deal seriously with the damage to religious institutions and sites. The police will continue to act against acts of violence and vandalism in the holy places of all religions," the Israeli police said.
Earlier on Thursday Israeli media outlets reported that Israeli extremists had attacked the church before the police statement was issued.
This is the latest attack on churches in East Jerusalem.
Last week, Israeli extremists attacked the residents and property of the Armenian Patriarchate, while last month a Christian cemetery near the Old City was attacked.
Church leaders have repeatedly called on Israeli authorities to put an end to the attacks, which they described as "hate crimes."
*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat