Israeli police arrested a man on Friday for allegedly attempting to set fire to a church near the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prayed before the crucifixion.
The Catholic leaders of the Holy Land are requesting a full investigation into the attempted arson on the church known as the Basilica of the Agony and the Church of All Nations, which is located on the Mount of Olives next to the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, CNA reports.
The suspect, a 49-year-old Israeli man, reportedly poured a flammable substance inside the church, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
A second police statement said that the church was set on fire by the suspect, Reuters reports.
"Preliminary investigation and the suspect’s details strengthen the assessment that the background to the incident was criminal," police said.
"This is a crime, a crime that shouldn’t happen in a church in the Holy Land," said Father Ibrahim Faltas.
The arson was denounced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who said the suspect was "terrorist Israeli settler" and pinned the blame on the Israeli government for the attack, Reuters reports.
Attacks on religious sites in Jerusalem are frequently blamed on "Jewish extremists," according to Reuters.
In 2015, another arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication damaged the site where Jesus was supposed to have fed thousands through multiplying loaves of bred and fish, according to CNA.
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