Friday, June 19, 2015

Antiquities arson in Israel

Israeli Police Investigate Arson at ‘Loaves and Fishes’ Church


JERUSALEM — A Catholic church at a revered site near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel was damaged by fire early on Thursday, in what the police are treating as an arson attack and possible hate crime.

Graffiti denouncing idol worship using the language of a Hebrew prayer was found spray-painted in red on an outside wall of the church, strengthening the suspicion that Jewish extremists may have been responsible for the attack.

The church, known as the Church of the Multiplication, stands on the site where many Christians believe Jesus performed one of the best-known miracles told in the Bible, feeding 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread. Pilgrims have visited and prayed at the site for decades.

As usual, this is the traditional site of the feeding of the five thousand and there is no way to be sure that it is the actual location of whatever event, if any, is behind the story. And, as usual, the church is an important place of pilgrimage as well as the site of notable antiquities, and the damage to it is tragic. The mosaics in the church date back to the fifth century. They were not harmed in the fire.
Arsonists torch storerooms with 4,000-year-old artifacts
Irreparable damage inflicted to antiquities salvaged during excavation at Tel Kishon, near Galilee’s Mount Tabor

BY ILAN BEN ZION June 16, 2015, 5:15 pm 5 (Times of Israel)

Arsonists in northern Israel torched two storerooms filled with artifacts found at a nearby salvage excavation at Tel Kishon on Monday. Some of the antiquities were over 4,000 years old.

The blaze inflicted irreparable damage to the antiquities, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement Tuesday morning. The authority lodged a report with the police, who opened an investigation into the incident.

I can find no indication of whom the authorities may suspect as the culprits.

UPDATE: 16 arrested, then released, in church torching. Settlers questioned in connection with attack at site where Christians believe Jesus fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish (Stuart Winer, Times of Israel).