An arson attack gutted part of the church at the site where Christians believe Jesus performed a miracle by feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, Israeli officials said Thursday.
A verse from a Hebrew prayer denouncing the worship of “false gods” was spray-painted in red on a wall at the church on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
“Extensive damage was caused to the church both inside and out,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
A spokesman for the fire brigade said a preliminary investigation showed the blaze broke out in several places inside the church, evidence that it was started deliberately.
The limestone Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes was constructed in the 1980s and is overseen by the Benedictine Order. It was built on the site of 4th and 5th century churches.
- Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish set alight last night
- Hebrew grafitti denouncing worship of ‘false gods’ scrawled across it
- Church adviser blamed Jewish extremists for the ‘deplorable’ attack
- Christians believe Jesus performed miracle of loaves and fishes at site
The Galilee church where Jesus was believed to have performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000 has been set alight in a suspected arson attack.
Hebrew graffiti was also scrawled across the walls of Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish which denounces the worship of ‘false gods’.
An adviser to the Catholic Church has now blamed Jewish extremists for the ‘deplorable’ attack after Israeli police said there is a ‘strong possibility’ the fire was started deliberately.
The current structure was built on the remains of a fifth-century Byzantine church at Tabgha on the shores of the Sea of Galilee – where many Christians believe Jesus fed 5,000 followers with just five loaves and two fish.
Police confirmed there was extensive damage to both inside and outside the building after the fire broke out in the middle of last night.
The Rabbis for Human Rights group said there have been 43 hate crime attacks against churches, mosques and monasteries in Israel and the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2009.
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