A municipality worker paints over graffiti daubed in Hebrew on a wall of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem May 9, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Israel's best known writer, Amos Oz, says that Israelis behind a wave of hate crimes against Muslims and Christian are "Hebrew neo-Nazis," Haaretz newspaper reported on its website Saturday.
It quoted the award-winning author as saying terms such as "price tag," widely used to describe attacks on Palestinians and others by Jewish extremists, are sanitised euphemisms.
They are "sweet names for a monster that needs to be called what it is: Hebrew neo-Nazi groups," Haaretz quoted Oz as telling guests Friday at an event marking his 75th birthday.
He said there was a difference between perpetrators of such events in the Jewish state and elsewhere.
"Our neo-Nazi groups enjoy the support of numerous nationalist or even racist legislators, as well as rabbis who give them what is in my view pseudo-religious justification," Haaretz quoted him as saying.
Earlier Friday, vandals spray-painted anti-Christian graffiti on a Jerusalem church, despite police stepping up security around religious sites ahead of a visit by Pope Francis later this month.
"Price tag... King David for the Jews... Jesus is garbage" was written in Hebrew on the wall of St George's Romanian Orthodox church near an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood.
Police also said "Death to Arabs" was found written on a house in the Old City in east Jerusalem, and swastikas were scrawled on the wall of a west Jerusalem apartment.
After Hebrew graffiti reading "Death to Arabs and Christians and to everyone who hates Israel" was daubed on its Notre Dame complex in Jerusalem on Monday, the Roman Catholic church demanded Israeli action.
"The bishops are very concerned about the lack of security and lack of responsiveness from the political sector, and fear an escalation of violence," the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said.
The attacks on Christian property come amid a rise in anti-Arab property crimes. Israeli ministers held an emergency meeting Wednesday, pledging to enforce harsh measures against perpetrators.
Although police have made scores of arrests, there have been nearly no successful prosecutions for such attacks, and the government has come up under mounting pressure to authorise the Shin Bet internal security agency to step in.
The Pope's visit to the region is scheduled to begin in Jordan on May 24.