Israel: Arson attack guts 'miracle' church in suspected hate crime

A section of the historic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, thought to be the site where Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, in Tabgha lay in ruins, Thursday, after a suspected arson attack gutted much of the building. Some 16 Yeshiva students from Israeli settlements have since been arrested in connection to the fire, but were later released without charge. Members of the Roman Catholic Benedictine order and emergency services walked through the burned-out building, run by the German Association of the Holy Land. While one of the buildings on the compound was completely destroyed, the church itself was reportedly left undamaged. Graffiti bearing a Hebrew prayer decrying the worship of 'false gods' was sprayed on one of the building's walls, as damaged Bibles lay scattered around the gutted structure. Attacks on Christian and Muslim places of worship in Israel, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have numbered in their hundreds in the past five years. Tabgha itself was also host to a previous attack in April 2014 when several religious Jewish teenagers reportedly damaged the church's crosses and attacked clergy members.