2 Christmas trees torched in suspected arson attack in northern city of Sakhnin

Police open probe into fires at city’s Catholic, Orthodox churches; Christian leader calls for incident to be treated as terrorism

Illustrative -- A Christmas tree in the northern Israel city of Nazareth on December 13, 2020 (Flash90)
Illustrative -- A Christmas tree in the northern Israel city of Nazareth on December 13, 2020 (Flash90)

Christmas trees at two churches in the northern city of Sakhnin were set alight in the early hours of Saturday morning in what police were investigating as an arson attack.

According to the Ynet news site, one of the trees was outside a Catholic church, while the second was outside an Orthodox church. Both churches have filed criminal complaints over the incidents.

Wadia Abu Nasser, a senior official in the Christian community, told the outlet that the two separate incidents showed there was malicious intent behind the fires and that they should be treated as terrorism.

“We demand that the security forces and the state authorities treat the incident as a terrorist attack. It is mandatory to bring the terrorists to justice,” Abu Nasser said.

The trees were allegedly set on fire at some point between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Police told Ynet that they took the attack on religious symbols very seriously.

“The police will use all the means at their disposal to prosecute the perpetrators,” they said in a statement.

The city of Sakhnin, Jan. 26, 2015 (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Former MK Masud Ganaim, a resident of the city, told Channel 12 news that the alleged attack was an attempt to cause divisions between the city’s Christian and Muslim residents.

“Sinful and malicious [people] try every year to sow discord and division among the residents of the city. The attempt to burn the Christmas tree is a malicious act, and we condemn it,” Ganaim told Channel 12 news.

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