Attack on Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha

The attack against a church in Tabgha in the Galilee has attracted strong condemnation from Palestinian authorities. President Mahmoud Abbas has termed it a “terrorist attack” and condemned “the culture of impunity” that has “allowed Israeli extremists to escalate their racist attacks against Palestinians and degrade our holy sites without any legal accountability.” Abbas has further called on the international community to take measures to instantaneously stop the systematic attacks against  holy sites.

Setting fire to Christian institutions is a relatively insignificant incident by the standards of Israel’s extreme right, but it constitutes a major challenge to the Judea and Samaria District Police and Jewish department of the Shin Bet security service, due to the elusive nature of the perpetrators.

 

The profile of Christian-haters is found at the seam between ultranationalist racists and religious-theological groups. To date, no arsonists involved in setting fire to religious sites have been caught, but the Jerusalem police has some experience with those who spit on priests in the alleyways of the Old City. Some come from extreme-right circles, with an ideological origin in religious-Zionist groups. Others, meanwhile, are Haredim from the margins of ultra-Orthodox society, who read one too many books about Christians and missionaries in their childhood.

 

These two groups connect in Jerusalem. The former bring with them their violent methods of operation; the latter the theological seal of approval. Along with the familiar groups, figures from Israel’s periphery, easily influenced young people with social problems, are also drawn into the conflagration. The Shin Bet is most concerned with members of the last group, who are not known to intelligence organizations and are more daring than more experienced agitators.

 

Quote from Haaretz – June 21st 2015

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