19 Jun, 2015
GALILEE, June 18, 2015 (WAFA) – The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish in Galilee, was set on fire at dawn on Thursday by Jewish extremists, which led to injuring two people including a monk, and resulting in considerable damage to valuable property.
The fire broke out during the night and was extinguished by firefighters who arrived around 3AM. A video which was published on the internet revealed the degree of damage that befell much of the cloister located in front of the historical church.
WAFA correspondent said that the fire destroyed the prayer halls, reception and storage areas. Aside from the property damage, an elderly Benedictine monk and a young volunteer who were in the Church were injured and transported to the hospital to be treated for toxic smoke inhalation.
Several other people suffered from smoke inhalation and suffocation while trying to put out the arson before the firefighters arrived.
According to a press statement published on the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the losses of the church were estimated at several million shekels. Click here to read the statement and see pictures of the destroyed church.
As shown in the video, “Hebrew words were spray painted on the walls – drawn from the text of praise recited three times a day by observant Jews “Aleinou LeShabeah”, a request for God to destroy the idols and pagans,” said the Patriarchate.
This is not the first time that this church was targeted by Jewish extremists; it was vandalized in April 2014, when the cross and altar were the target of a barrage of stones and spitting by a gang of young Jews between the ages of 13 and 15.
The Patriarchate said, “This new event does not promote peace among peoples of all religions. Furthermore, this act of violence does not encourage pilgrims and tourists, very present in Tabgha, to visit the Holy Land.”
It added, “Voices are already rising, as the political sphere of the Christian community seek an urgent and speedy investigation to strongly condemn the perpetrators of this vicious and disgraceful madness.”
Fateh’s Revolutionary Council Member Dimitri Diliani told WAFA that the attack against this church is a practical translation to the positions of the occupation government which holds full responsibility for this terrorist crime.”
He said that Israeli government financially supports the Jewish terrorist groups by providing fiscal budgets to the institutions and religious schools which shelter them and plant a terrorist mindset.
Diliani noted that the Israeli government provides these terrorists with the legal protection by refusing to recognize these groups as terrorist, despite acting as ones.
Meanwhile, Wadi Abu Nassar, a senior advisor to the Catholic Church held Israel fully responsible for the ongoing scenario of attacks by Jewish extremists on both Muslim and Christian religious sites.
He told WAFA, “There is a security malfunction by not pursuing the criminals and assailants to charge them for attacking religious sites, despite ongoing claims that police investigations are being opened.”
As for the value of the church which was burned, Abu Nassar said that it is considered a historical site and a shrine frequently visited by Christians from around the world for being associated with Jesus Christ and the miracle of fish and bread.
Israeli Knesset Member, Basel Ghattas condemned the arson and the actions of terrorist “price tag” groups and demanded the Israeli government to investigate this crime and locate those responsible for it.
Hanna Issa, the Secretary General of the Islamic-Christian Committee called for the protection of religious sites in Palestine, both Muslim and Christian, and held the Israeli government responsible for these ongoing violations.
Moreover, Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Sheikh Yousef Adeis said that the attack against this church is not an individual and uncalculated act, but an action done with the protection of the Israeli government.
According to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, Bishop Giacinto Marcuzzo has already visited the Benedictine community and the site early in the morning for preliminary inspection.
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL) hasn’t released a statement yet regarding the incident.