Last Update 21:59
Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Suspected arson attack at revered Christian site in Israel

AFP , Thursday 18 Jun 2015
Church of Loaves and Fishes
A nun looks at damage caused by a fire in the Church of Loaves and Fishes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel June 18, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1050
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1050

A suspected arson attack damaged a revered Christian shrine in northern Israel overnight, police said Thursday, as a church adviser pointed the finger at Jewish extremists.

The Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha on the shores on the Sea of Galilee is where many Christians believe Jesus fed the 5,000 in the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.

"During the night a fire broke out at the Tabgha church," a police statement said, indicating that police and fire service investigators were examining the scene.

"Graffiti in Hebrew was found on the wall of the church."

A member of the Roman Catholic Benedictine order, which manages the site, said one of the buildings within the compound was completely destroyed in the blaze but the church itself was not damaged.

The Hebrew graffiti, which was found on another building within the complex, was part of a common Jewish prayer which says "idols will be cast out" - or destroyed, an AFP correspondent reported.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two people who were in the compound at the time were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

"There's a strong possibility that it wasn't an accident," Rosenfeld told AFP.

Father Matthias said an external atrium was "totally destroyed" in the blaze.

"The church, thank God is in good condition," he told AFP. "We're very happy that nothing happened to the church."

Wadie Abu Nasser, an adviser to the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, said the apparent arson attack would reverberate throughout the Christian world.

"Israel's global image will be harmed," he told Israeli public radio.

"When you put one and one together, between the graffiti and the arson, you can reach a conclusion regarding the potential suspects."

Tabgha was subjected to a previous attack in April 2014 in which church officials said a group of religious Jewish teenagers had damaged crosses and attacked clergy.

The has been a long line of attacks on Christian and Muslim holy places in Israel, in which the perpetrators are believed to have been Jewish extremists.

"I absolutely condemn such acts," deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a statement.

German ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis said he was "shocked" by the incident.

"I strongly condemn this attack and every form of violence" against places of worship or people working in them, he said in a statement.

"Religious institutions must be as well protected in Israel as they are in Germany and Europe."

In April, vandals smashed gravestones at a Maronite Christian cemetery near Israel's northern border with Lebanon.

That incident prompted Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to meet church leaders and pledge a crackdown on religiously inspired hate crime.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.