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Ultra-Orthodox man seen spitting at Christian priest in Jerusalem

<i>Corinna Kern/picture-alliance/dpa/AP/File</i><br/>Father Nikodemus Schnabel is pictured in the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha
Corinna Kern/picture-alliance/dpa/AP/File
Father Nikodemus Schnabel is pictured in the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha

By Lauren Izso, brahim Dahman and Ibrahim Hazboun, CNN

Tel Aviv (CNN) — A video obtained by CNN shows two young ultra-Orthodox men spitting at, swearing at and insulting a Christian priest near the Zion Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday evening.

Natalie Amiri, a correspondent for German TV network ARD, was interviewing Father Nikodemus Schnabel when the incident occurred, and captured most of it on video, which she shared on Instagram to her 114,000 followers. She later sent the videos to CNN.

She described two young men crossing their path as they walked through the Old City. One of them, she said, approached them and spat at Schnabel. The assault was not captured on camera, but the sound of spitting is clearly audible.

The priest and journalist continued to walk through the Old City, and were again approached by the same two men as they walked through the Armenian Quarter. They approached Schnabel, proceeded to spit at him again, verbally insult him, and one of them kicked him, a video shows.

Another video filmed by Amiri after the initial spitting incident shows Father Schnabel attempting to take a photo of the young men’s faces to show police.

“You have no right to touch me and spit on me,” he tells one of the men in English as the other attempts to block Amiri’s camera with his hand. “The police are always asking. I need a picture of his face.”

One of the men walks up to Schnabel, yelling profanities. An older man intervenes and convinces him in Hebrew to back off, but the suspect tells the man to “watch out.”

“I did that to the priest because they are Christians, brother, and this is what I do to them,” one of them says to others watching the incident.

An armed Israeli man then intervenes and physically guides the men away from Schnabel, as one yells “f***ing Jesus” in English at Schnabel.

The men were later arrested by Israeli Police and are currently being held under house arrest as the incident is investigated.

“Last night, the police received a report regarding youths who traversed the Zion Gate area in the Old City of Jerusalem. These individuals engaged in verbal insults and spat towards a religious man passing by before hastily fleeing the scene,” the police statement said Sunday.

The suspects, one of whom is 17 years old, were brought in for questioning, according to police, and they were both subsequently placed under house arrest.

Christians in the Old City are regularly the target of spitting and verbal abuse by Orthodox Jews. Five people were arrested in October, accused of spitting at people or churches.

The Latin Patriarchy of Jerusalem said Sunday on X that it “condemns the unprovoked and shameful assault” on Schnabel.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned the “ugly” act in a post on X.

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