The vandalism, made by a paintball gun with red paint that was found in a nearby trash can, occurred on Tuesday.
Staff members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia were notified that a man was shooting paint at the flag rushed to the corner of 16th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway and were able to identify the man for police, according to the local ABC affiliate.
The man acknowledged that he was responsible for the vandalism when asked by police. He was taken into police custody.
Police told local media that they do not know why the man attacked the Israeli flag and are not calling it a hate crime. He faces charges of institutional vandalism, according to ABC6.
The attack on the flag came a day after nearly 60 Palestinians protesting near the Gaza border with Israel were killed by Israeli troops. Among the issues they were protesting was the opening on Monday of the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
The flags of hundreds of countries fly along Ben Franklin Parkland. The area next to the Israeli flag is fenced off for the construction of the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza and already is the site of the Monument to the Six Million Martyrs, erected in 1964, and the first Holocaust statue established in a United States city, according to the local Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.
“I’m very upset to learn of the desecration of the Israeli flag that hangs along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “Hate and anti-Semitism have no place in the City of Philadelphia. While I understand that emotions are running high and there are many viewpoints stemming from recent violence against Palestinians and other protesters in the Gaza Strip, it doesn’t warrant hateful acts of vandalism. Fortunately, due to the swift work of the Philadelphia Police Department as well as concerned residents, a suspect was placed into custody shortly after this incident occurred.”