Islamic extremists set fire to the St. Charbel Monastery in Bethlehem over the weekend, and Christian leaders in Bethlehem—a Palestinian Authority-governed area of the West Bank—have demanded that the Palestinian government do more to prosecute the criminals responsible for the reported arson attack.
Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Arab-Israeli Christian, blamed “Palestinian extremists” for burning down the church.
“I condemn with all my heart the laxness of the Palestinian Authority in protecting Christian holy places it controls. I also hope that all the Christian leaders who demonstrated when the Church of Bread and Fishes near Tiberias was burned down will also demonstrate against this terrible act,” Naddaf wrote on Facebook. Naddaf called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to handle the matter with the same “seriousness and severity” that the Palestinians appear to demonstrate when investigating incidents that occur inside of the State of Israel.
Christian leaders in Bethlehem joined Naddaf in condemning the Palestinian Authority—who blamed the fire on an “electrical malfunction.”
“The [Palestinian Authority] tries to sweep these incidents under the rug but it never condemns these acts, which interfere with freedom of religion,” An unidentified Christian leader told Israel National News.