Jerusalem church torching sparks condemnation

International Christian Embassy calls upon all communities in the Holy Land to respect houses of worship.

As speculation over the motives behind an arson attack against a church in the capital’s downtown over the weekend grows, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem warned on Sunday against labeling it a “price tag” attack by extremist Jewish settlers.
Overnight Thursday, the Christian Alliance headquarters on Rehov Hanevi’im was set ablaze, causing extensive damage to the historic building and injuring the 10 guests there. Several of them were treated for smoke inhalation at the adjacent Bikur Holim hospital, and one suffered from shock.
A police spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that they were still waiting for the firefighters’ investigative report, to determine whether the fire was intentional.
A member of the complex’s staff, however, told the Post that police had already affirmed that the blaze was no accident. The staff member added that a person in the building had said that at time of the fire a group of Orthodox Jews outside were saying, “Let it burn.”
In a statement on Sunday, the International Christian Embassy set out to rebut speculation the attack on the Christian Alliance building might be in the same vein as the arson attacks against two West Bank mosques in recent months, or even part of an Israeli attempt to drive Arab Christians out of the country.
“The International Christian Embassy condemns the arson attack on the Christian Alliance church and hospice... which not only damaged an historic church building but also seriously endangered the lives of a number of guests staying in the facility,” the statement read. “We urge Israeli authorities to investigate this matter thoroughly and prosecute those found responsible. We note that this process has already begun and while no conclusions can be drawn yet, it appears this was not a ‘price tag’ attack by extremist Jewish settlers, as some media are already claiming.
“In that regard, however, the Christian Embassy also condemns the recent arson attacks on mosques in Palestinian villages, and insists that the sanctity of houses of worship and those practicing their faith therein be fully respected by all communities in the Holy Land,” the statement read.