Police arrested on Friday a religious Jewish man after he set fire to the inside of a Roman-Catholic church called The Church of All Nations located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The man is suspected to be a right-wing man who set fire to the holy site on the basis of a hate crime, but no details have been confirmed.
No injuries were reported, and the damage was limited. In videos of the scene, sections of the burnt floor can be seen alongside a number of lightly charred pews.
Wadie Abunassar, Advisor to the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries, said that 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 man who caused the damage.
“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,” Abunasser said.
He said that 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.