Israel arrests suspects in arson attack on famous church

AP News
Posted: Jul 12, 2015 8:58 AM
Israel arrests suspects in arson attack on famous church

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police have arrested a number of suspects in last month's arson attack on a famous Catholic church in the Holy Land, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday.

The fire is believed to be an attack by Jewish extremists, but Rosenfeld would not elaborate on the identity of those arrested.

The June 18 fire at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish caused extensive damage to the inside and outside of the building, including damage to the roof and prayer books.

The modern building is built on the remains of a fifth-century Byzantine church and features a Byzantine mosaic floor that was not harmed. The church marks the traditional spot of Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fish, and is located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. It is one of the most popular stops for Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.

The attack was condemned across the Israeli political spectrum and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency to "to conduct a full and speedy investigation."

Rosenfeld said the arrests were made following a joint effort with the Shin Bet.

In recent years, mosques and churches have been targeted by vandals in similar attacks. They are often attributed to extremist Jews from West Bank settlements.