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Israeli found guilty of church arson attack

July 4, 2017 at 8:05 pm

The Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee was attacked and set ablaze in June 2015. [Image: Arabs48]

A Jewish extremist was convicted yesterday of setting fire to an historic church in Israel in 2015.

Yinon Reuveni set light to the Church of Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, a site where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. Another defendant, 21-year-old Yehuda Asraf was acquitted of all charges in court.

Although the Catholic church’s 5th century mosaic floor was not damaged, “Idols will be cast out or destroyed” was daubed on the walls. The church reopened in February after renovation costing $1 million.

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According to the Times of Israel, Reuvani was previously arrested on suspicion of attacking and setting fire to Palestinian property, and is a suspect in the arson attack at Jerusalem’s Dormiton Abbey in early 2015.

Prosecutor Avi Pasternak said the verdict made a strong statement on Jewish terrorism, but defence lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir claimed that the judge had ignored the defence’s arguments and vowed to challenge the decision.

A third suspect, Moshe Orbach, charged with writing and distributing a document detailing the “necessity” of attacking non-Jewish property, still awaits trial.