A Jewish extremist has been convicted of setting fire to the Church of the Multiplication in Israel. The church was built on a site where Christians believe Jesus did the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fishes.
22-year-old Jewish extremist, Yinon Reuveni was found guilty of carrying out an arson attack two years ago at the famed 4th-Century church at Tabgha, around the corner from the Sea of Galilee.
The second person, 21-year-old suspect Yehuda Asraf was found not guilty of setting ablaze the Church where Jesus did the miracle of feeding of the 5,000. Judge George Azulay acquitted Asraf, who was accused of assisting Reuveni in setting fire to the building.
In their 2015 indictment, it was reported that Reuveni, currently a resident of the southern town of Ofakim, had been banished from the West Bank on several occasions and is a suspect in a series of hate crimes, including the February 2015 arson attack at Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey.
Asraf, was said to be living on an illegal outpost and is active in extremist Jewish circles.
The arson attack completely destroyed a building in the compound. Hebrew graffiti was found on another building within the complex, reading: “Idols will be cast out or destroyed.”
Although a sentence for the arsonist is expected at a later date, the arson attack caused damages of around $1.5 million.
The complex reopened to pilgrims in February this year following eight months of renovation work at a cost of around $1 million dollars, of which the State of Israel contributed almost $400,000.
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife attended an interfaith meeting to mark the reopening along with Christian dignitaries, including Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Ambassador of Germany Dr. Clemens von Goetze, Sheikh Muafak Tarīf, and Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, as well as Jordan Valley Local Council leader Idan Greenbaum and donors in the Roman Catholic church.