The Nazareth District Court on Monday convicted Yinon Reuveni, a 20-year-old from Ofakim, of setting fire to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes three years ago.
At the same time, the court acquitted Yehuda Asraf, a 19-year-old resident of Elad who was accused of helping Reuveni in setting the fire, of all charges.
According to the indictment, Reuveni decided to set fire to the church due to his hostility to Christianity. Asraf allegedly provided the vehicle Reuveni used to reach the church and carry out the act of arson.
At approximately 10 PM, Reuveni allegedly set out and gathered friends to carry out the crime. They filled bottles with gasoline from a gas station and brought along matches and a lighter to set the fire.
At about 3:15 AM the alleged arsonists arrived at the church and broke into the building. They poured gasoline on the door and walls and set the building on fire.
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.
Hebrew graffiti was found on another building within the complex, reading: "Idols will be cast out" or destroyed. During the attempts to extinguish the fire, the abbot was injured and lightly inhaled smoke inhalation.