(Reading time: 1 - 2 minutes)
The Sea of Galilee
Photo: Flicker / nborun (cc)

A suspected arson attack took place in June on a church near the shores of the historical Sea of Galilee, resulting in the injury of two people and causing serious damage to the church facility. An elderly monk and a German volunteer needed hospital treatment for smoke inhalation after the attack on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha village. While there was minor damage to the main worship hall, other areas were badly affected. Graffiti was also painted inside the church during the attack with a warning: "The false gods will be eliminated."

No one has been arrested in connection with the blaze but 16 Jewish youths were taken in for questioning before being released. In April of last year, young Jewish extremists desecrated crosses and an altar at the same church. Local bishops have called on Jews, Christians and Muslims to stand in solidarity against "violence and extremism." It is reported that attacks by extremists on churches and Christian-owned property are now common.

The Galilee church was built in the 1980s on the site of ancient places of worship that commemorated the spot where Jesus fed the five thousand with loaves and fish. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the recent arson incident as "an attack on all of us," promising to bring the culprits to justice.

Let's cry out for the nation of Israel, requesting peace within its walls so the people would remain secure, having no fear of harm (Psalm 122:6-9). May its citizens -- representing all faiths -- stand together against extremism and violence in this troubled region, promoting unity and religious tolerance. Ask God to work within the hearts of those perpetrating these hateful crimes so they will turn from evil and do good. Thank the Lord, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, for watching over Israel and its inhabitants (Psalm 121:4). He is ever faithful!