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Bethlehem Monastery Fire Was Islamist Arson: Church

A Church in Bethlehem has been torched in what local Christian leaders are calling a terrorist arson attack.

The St. Charbel Monastery was undergoing renovations when a fire broke out this weekend. There were no casualties, but the building was seriously damaged.

The Palestinian Authority stated that the fire was caused by an "electrical malfunction."  Christian leaders attacked the PA for what they say is misrepresenting the incident.

“It was an act of arson, not a fire caused by an electrical problem, an act of sectarian vandalism by radical Muslims,” said the Chancellor of the Marionite Patriarchate.

The attack is sectarian in nature,” he added. “It is anti-Christian, like many other incidents across the Middle East. Extremist groups operate in the area, including some Hamas cells. There are also some loose cannons that give vent to their ideology.”

“I condemn with all my heart the laxness of the Palestinian Authority in protecting Christian holy places it controls,” said Arab-Israeli Christian Father Gabriel Naddaf in a Facebook post. “I also hope that all the Christian leaders who demonstrated when the Church of Bread and Fishes near Tiberias was burned down will also demonstrate against this terrible act.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, “I am disturbed by the damage to St. Charbel Monastery in Bethlehem, which was burned last Saturday. If we are speaking about the actions of extremists, I expect the Palestinian Authority to catch those responsible, as Israel has done to extremists who have attacked the holy sites of all.”

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

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