Twelve Hasidic Jewish worshippers were arrested Monday after breaking into the Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in Crown Heights, New York, and allegedly damaging the synagogue underneath it, according to officials.
Chabad-Lubavitch is an Orthodox Jewish Hasidic dynasty and one of the largest Jewish religious organizations in the world.
It’s not immediately clear why the worshippers broke into the synagogue, but there had been a dispute over a tunnel secretly dug into the side of the institution, The Associated Press reported.
Motti Seligson, the director of media at Chabad, said the worshippers were “a group of extremist students” who “broke through a few walls in adjacent properties to the synagogue.”
Some time ago, a group of extremist students, broke through a few walls in adjacent properties to the synagogue at 784-788 Eastern Parkway, to provide them unauthorized access. Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls. Those efforts were disrupted by the…
— Motti Seligson (@mottiseligson) January 9, 2024
“Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls,” Seligson wrote on his X account. “Those efforts were disrupted by the extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access.”
According to Seligson, Lubavitch officials tried to gain access to the area around the Brooklyn synagogue through the New York court system, but “the process has dragged on for years.”
“This is, obviously, deeply distressing to the Lubavitch movement, and the Jewish community worldwide. We hope and pray to be able to expeditiously restore the sanctity and decorum of this holy place,” Seligson wrote.
Of the 12 arrested, four were charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, two were charged with an attempted hate crime and criminal mischief, three were charged with attempted criminal mischief and three were taken into custody for disorderly conduct, according to the New York Police Department.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident, police said.
The incident is under investigation.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com