Jewish man arrested for setting fire to Roman Catholic church in Jerusalem

The suspect poured flammable liquid inside the Roman Catholic church, and then set it alight before a church guard detained him and police took him for questioning.

The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. 20th October 2008 (photo credit: MATANYA TAUSIG/FLASH90)
The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. 20th October 2008
(photo credit: MATANYA TAUSIG/FLASH90)
Police on Friday arrested a man for trying to set fire to the Church of All Nations on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, the site revered by Christians as the place where Jesus prayed before he was crucified.
The 49-year-old Israeli suspect poured flammable liquid inside the Roman Catholic church, also known as the Basilica of the Agony, and then set it alight before a church guard detained him and police took him for questioning.
The suspect is believed to be a Jew who holds extreme right-wing views, although no details were initially confirmed.
A section of charred floor from the Church of All Nations, December, 2020. (Credit: Terra Santa)A section of charred floor from the Church of All Nations, December, 2020. (Credit: Terra Santa)

Nobody was hurt, but pictures from the scene showed some scorching of pews. Four teams of firefighters fought the blaze; a spokesman said that, “fortunately, it did not spread to the entire church.” The smoke that accumulated was dispersed through ventilation.

 
Wadie Abunassar, adviser to the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries, said they are “grateful to God” that there was little damage done and that no one was hurt. He also thanked police for their swift work to arrest the suspect.
“We hope for a serious investigation, especially with regard to motive, because if the motive is truly suspected to be racist, I believe many conclusions should be drawn,” Abunassar said.

 
He said the conclusions should not only be drawn “in the field of security, but also in education, because it seems that people here don’t really promote coexistence based on mutual respect of all faithful in the Holy Land.”
The church, also known as the Basilica of the Agony, was built on the site of the Garden of Gethsemane which enshrines a section of bedrock that is believed to be the place that Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest, according to the Foreign Ministry. 

A pew from The Church of All Nations can be seen burnt, December 4, 2020. (Credit: Terra Santa)A pew from The Church of All Nations can be seen burnt, December 4, 2020. (Credit: Terra Santa)