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    » 06/18/2015, 00.00

    ISRAEL

    Arson at Tabgha church in the Galilee, where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes



    Police arrested and later released 16 suspected youths from a yeshiva. A storage room and offices next to the church were damaged, not the church itself. Graffiti in biblical Hebrew were scribbled on a wall, calling on the government to throw out the pagans. Israeli settlers and Jewish extremists could be behind the incident.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Tabgha Church suffered fire damage in what the authorities believe to be an arson attack.

    According to Gospel tradition, the church stands on the site where Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

    The building itself is located on the north-western shore of the Sea of ​​Galilee, and is one of the most important Christian holy sites in the Galilee.

    Initial reports said that the entire building had burnt. However, only a storage room and church offices suffered damages, and two people were slightly hurt from smoke inhalation.

    The church itself was not touched, said Fr Matthias Karl, a member of the German Benedictine order in charge of the site. Quick action by firefighters stopped the fire from spreading to others parts of the building.

    Israeli police detained 16 youth on suspicion of involvement in the incident but later released them. Ten of them could be yeshiva students.

    Graffiti in biblical Hebrew were scribbled on one wall, urging Israel to throw out those worshipping pagan gods. The words come from a prayer practicing Jews repeat three times a day asking God to destroy idols and pagans.

    Jewish extremist or Israeli settlers could be behind the attack against the Christian place of worship. In recent years others places of worship have been attacked, including the church near the Upper Room, the Basilica of Nazareth, as well as other Catholic and Greek-Orthodox places of worship.

    Muslim mosques and places of worship have also been targeted in what Israeli extremists call a "price tag" on Christians and Muslims for having "taken away their land."

    Once such actions were limited only to areas on the border with the West Bank and in Jerusalem, but now have spread too much of Israel.

    In a statement the Israeli Embassy to the Holy See slammed this morning’s act of vandalism, which is "in total contradiction" with the values ​​and traditions of Israel and "do not represent in any way" the State of Israel.

    Police sources said that the 16 youths are from Jewish settlements, ten of them from Yitzhar, a known bastion of extremists. Some of its residents were previously involved in hate crimes.

    Tabgha suffered a previous attack in April 2014, on the eve of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Holy Land.

    Fr Matthias Karl, a German monk at the church, said a souvenir shop, an office for pilgrims and a meeting room were badly damaged last night, with bibles and prayer books destroyed.

    “The fire was very active,” he said, but “The church, thank God is in good condition,” he added. “We’re very happy that nothing happened” to it.

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    See also

    15/09/2015 ISRAEL
    Israel denies compensation by claiming that the Tabgha church arson was not terrorism
    For Israel’s tax authority, the arson was religiously motivated. Under the law, only damages “stemming from the Israeli-Arab conflict” can be compensated. Catholic Church appeals to Israel’s president for justice.

    05/09/2012 ISRAEL
    Anti-Christian violence in Israel. Catholic leaders: Forces of hate
    The main door of the Trappist monastery of Latrun burned. Graffiti offensive of the Christian faith. Perhaps revenge for the evacuation of an illegal Israeli settlement. Catholic patriarchs and bishops denounce: Christians used as scapegoats. Israeli society marked by teaching "of contempt." Netanyahu promises justice.

    12/11/2014 PALESTINE-ISRAEL
    Israeli settlers burn a mosque in West Bank
    The overnight arson attack took place near Ramallah. Mounting tensions after clashes on the Temple Mount. A 22 year-old Palestinian youth killed by police in Hebron.

    08/08/2015 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    Nablus, father of 18 month old burned alive in settler attack, dies
    The man, 32, died of the second-degree burns sustained during the attack. His wife and eldest son of four remain in critical condition.

    15/12/2008 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Israel frees 227 Palestinian prisoners. Hand extended to Abbas, along path of peace
    The decision of the Israeli government is a recognition of the efforts for peace undertaken by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. A decision ratified by the constitutional court: none of the detainees was implicated in attacks against Israel. From 2005 until today, 2,100 Palestinian prisoners have been freed.



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