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Church officials say arson behind Jerusalem fire
Published Saturday 30/10/2010 (updated) 31/10/2010 11:02
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JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers were initially accused of carrying out the torching of a church building in Jerusalem on Friday evening, destroying the interior of what was until 1948 the Palestine Bible College.

Guardian for the Jerusalem Alliance Church, Zakariyya Al-Mashriqi, said there was evidence that a "group of extremist settlers broke a window in the back of the two-story building and hurled fire bombs inside," resulting in the torching of the first floor.

While witnesses from the nearby Bikur Holim Hospital later said the fire was the result of an accident, pointing to candles from the church setting the blaze, a church official told Ma'an that they remained unsure of the cause.

There appeared to be evidence, the official said, that pointed to arson, but he added that the church was awaiting the findings of fire investigators. The investigation team, the church was told, would not be able to begin investigations until the end of the Jewish sabbath, when crews and insurance agents would carry out a search.

An Israeli police spokesperson did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Al-Mashriqi condemned the arson, saying it was meant to create division among Jerusalem leaders and ultimately to expel Palestinians from the area through ongoing attacks on their properties.

According to the government news network WAFA, the building, constructed in 1897, was initially used as part of the campus for the Palestine Bible College, which was shut down in 1948, when employees and church officials fled fighting and sought shelter in East Jerusalem. When Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, church officials returned to the building, which was refurbished in 1967.

The building was located on Prophets Street, which runs through both East and West Jerusalem.
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1 ) Ibn Musa / The World
30/10/2010 16:30
More than likely it was a priest, using a lighted candle looking for a young boy
that accidentally set the fire

2 ) jacques jedwab / france
30/10/2010 18:44
I appreciate the objectivity and the balance of the paper.

3 ) Khader / Palestine
30/10/2010 19:33
That's part of the Israeli strategy to ethnicaly cleanse Jerusalem of its indigenous population.
And regarding Ibn Musa, the Baptist Church does not have priests but reverends, and there is no congregation since they were eyhnicaly cleanse in 1948... and if you mean sexual abuse, just go and look among your Shas party ;) Long live Palestine!

4 ) Nina / Belgium
30/10/2010 21:54
In fact, everybody is more or less well balanced in all the region, but Israel and its occupying force and paramilitary squadrons of destruction (settlers)

5 ) Egygirl / Egypt
30/10/2010 22:30
@Ibn Musa: Crawl back to the rock you lay under. Settlers are criminals and wont put it beyond them. I'm glad no one got hurt. FREE PALESTINE

6 ) Yaffa / USA
31/10/2010 04:20
Sorry, no candles and no priests here. The people in the building were tourists who had come to visit Israel.

7 ) BEN JABO / ISRAEL/USA
31/10/2010 16:20
Yaffa, you're wroing, People that were in Bikur Holim Hospital said candles were being used, since you weren't there and they were, I prefer to believe them

Khader,
The left in 1948 because they sought safety, they returned in 1967 when Israel re-captured the City

5) Egygirl
They're not setlters, they're Jews living where the belong, in Israel, your're just jealous that we kept beating up the Egyptian Army

8 ) yehuda steinburg / canada
31/10/2010 17:12
that church doesnt belong in erez israel anyhow.if they want a palestinian church go to jordan.shalom

9 ) susan / uk
01/11/2010 15:40
I attended this little gathering of believers on the previous Sunday - it's not the sort of place where candles are used. I'm sorry, I don't know where the hospital is in relation to this building, but it's strange that people there 'said candles were being used' when I was in the room and didn't see any (lit or unlit).

10 ) BEN JABO / ISRAEL/USA
02/11/2010 23:03
9 ) susan / uk

Did it ever occur to you that it was DAYLIGHT and no need for candles ?
Why not return to the site to see the Hospitals location ?

11 ) BEN JABO / ISRAEL/USA
03/11/2010 00:54
9 ) susan / uk

Maybe it was daylight and they didn't need canclles

Visit the Hospital, speak to the people that say they saw the cancles

Or did you consider that someone lit a cigarette and was careless with the match ?

12 ) Tim / USA
07/11/2010 08:32
Hey Ben Jabo, Yaffa is right. I was one of the fire victims and there were no candles used in the building. All of us were asleep when the fire was started. How would hospital workers have first-hand knowledge of the inisde of the building? Anything they said was just speculation. The group from the building was pretty traumatized. If folks want the straight story, they should speak to primary sources, and eye witnesses. Cigarettes? No one in the building smokes, nor is it permitted. -Peace.

13 ) Jonathan / USA
14/11/2010 07:46
"that church doesnt belong in erez israel anyhow.if they want a palestinian church go to jordan.shalom" A building dedicated to the worship of the God of the Jews and acknowledgement of the Mashiach does not belong in Eretz Israel? Hatred without a cause.
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