Suspect detained for fire at Jerusalem’s Ascension Church
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Suspect detained for fire at Jerusalem’s Ascension Church

Police say incident likely not a religious attack, motivated by ‘a local dispute’

The Church of the Ascensions tower looms up on the right of the picture.  (CC BY-SA.4.0 Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia)
The Church of the Ascensions tower looms up on the right of the picture. (CC BY-SA.4.0 Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia)

One person was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of breaking into a landmark Jerusalem church and trying to set it on fire earlier in the day, police said, noting that the incident did not appear to have been a religiously motivated attack.

A guard at the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives reported that the building had been broken into and damaged, apparently by a fire.

Police confirmed that the door to the church entrance had been broken through and that extensive soot suggested attempted arson.

However, police said it appeared to be motivated “by a local dispute.” They did not elaborate.

The church, whose 64-meter (210-foot) tower helps to define Jerusalem’s skyline, is dedicated to the ascension of Jesus to heaven 40 days after his resurrection, even though most Christians believe the Chapel of the Ascension, some 200 meters further west, to be the true spot.

The Church of the Ascension on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives. (CC BY-SA 2.0 Alistair/Wikimedia)
The Church of the Ascension on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. (CC BY-SA 2.0 Alistair/Wikimedia)

There have been several attacks on churches in recent years.

The Church of the Dormition on Mount Zion has been attacked on several occasions by vandals.

In June 2015, the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes sustained major damage after an arson attack by Jewish extremists.

The latter — in Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee — reopened last month.

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