Members of Extremist Jewish Group Charged for Arson Attack on Church of Loaves and Fishes

Israeli police say they’ve caught two Israeli men believed to be behind the arson attack on the historic church of Loaves and Fishes in Israel.

The church, which stands at the site where Christians believe Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 of His followers, was damaged extensively in a fire earlier this month.

Sparked in an act of religious and racial hatred, the arson attack caused widespread condemnation in Israel as well as solidarity protests by non-Christian Israelis.


From the article:

"Israel’s security agency, the Shin Bet says the men responsible are followers of an “extremist Jewish ideology” that believes “only someone who fights Christianity can call himself a Jew.”

The suspects were purportedly driven by a hateful anti-Christian ideology held by the so-called Hilltop Youth, a group of Jewish ultra-nationalists known for establishing illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria.

According to officials the incident happened on the night of June 17, where the suspects torched the church in order to cause harm to a Christian holy place.

The suspects allegedly drove to a gas station in west Jerusalem, where they filled up bottles with gasoline.

They then waited a few hours before allegedly making their way to a meeting room inside the church where they poured gasoline on the doors and walls and lit the fuel.

The group then spread gasoline on the door of the monks’ living quarters, and poured a trail of gasoline to a yard outside, where they lit the fuel as well.

The arsonists then sprayed graffiti on a wall of the church labeling it as a place of idol worship.

During the blaze, the head of the church and a volunteer were treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics.

The building was almost completely gutted by the flames. Priests and volunteers say they expected a long, costly rebuilding process.

The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes was built in the 1980s, and sits on the site of fourth and fifth century shrines that are believed to commemorate the location of one of Jesus’ most well-known miracles.

Matthias Carl Benedictina, one of the church’s priests, noted that this was not the only attack against Christianity in the region.

He revealed that there have been over 50 acts of violence against Christian institutions by extremist groups in Israel in the past three years, sometimes targeting cemeteries and other Christian property."

May those involved in such acts be reconciled to Our Lord and find peace in His mercy. May those harmed or terrorized find strength and peace in His love and faithfulness.

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This kind of hateful extremist and terrorist activity must be condemned by all. It is not only harmful to Christians but also to Jews.

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