Church of the Multiplication arsonist sent to prison

District Court sentences Yinon Reuveni to four years in prison for torching church.

Mordechai Sones,

"Idols shall be cast out"
"Idols shall be cast out"
צילום: Flash 90

The Nazareth District Court on Tuesday sentenced four years in prison for Yinon Reuveni, who set fire to the church where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of loaves and fishes north-west of the Sea of Galilee.

In addition, he was fined NIS 50,000 and another two years suspended sentence.

Reuveni was convicted of aggravated arson, destruction of property out of hostility to the public, conspiracy to commit other acts, and using a vehicle to commit a crime.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir said after the verdict, "In contrast to what some think it is not a light sentence. The State Prosecutor's Office requested an unprecedented sentence of nine years in prison and the court did well to reject the inadmissible position of the State Prosecutor's Office but with this the punishment handed down is exaggerated. Arabs who set fire to a yeshiva were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, and Arabs who torched a synagogue were sentenced to two years in prison.

Church of the Multiplication
Flash 90

"This is an extremely unreasonable punishment for a young man without a criminal record who only recently married and suffered from continuous harassment by the IPS and the GSS during his detention. In any event, we believe that the conviction itself was incorrect. The judge ignored a long list of question marks, questions and many investigative failures that we presented, and we will of course appeal to the Supreme Court both on the verdict and on the sentence," Ben-Gvir added.

The arson attack, at the site where many Christians believe Jesus fed the 5,000 in the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, completely destroyed one of the buildings in the compound. The church itself was not damaged.

Hebrew graffiti was found on another building within the complex, reading: "Idols shall be cast out" or destroyed.