Israeli Jew Who Burned Iconic Galilee Church Gets 4 Years in Prison

Defendant’s lawyer decries unprecedented sentence, but authorities had wanted to give even more jail time

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A Jewish extremist behind the 2015 arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication on the shores of the Sea of Galilee has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The Nazareth District Court also ordered Yinon Reuveni to pay a fine of NIS 50,000 ($14,000).

The State Prosecutor's Office had wanted to hand Reuveni an unprecedented nine-year jail term in order to make an example of him and deter any further attacks on local Christians.

Reuveni's lawyer, Itamar Ben-Gvir, complained that even the four-year sentence was exaggerated, considering that in recent cases Arab Muslims who torched synagogues were only given two years in prison.

Earlier this year, Israel President Reuven Rivlin helped reopen the fully restored Church of the Multiplication, stating:

"We stand up for religious freedom because, as a people, we know very well what it means to suffer religious persecution. And we stand up for religious freedom because we are a democratic state – who believe in the rights for everyone to worship God according to their belief.

"The last time I was here, we stood together and looked at the burnt walls and the terrible graffiti. Today, I visit here again, and see the renewal of this historic, special, and holy place. I want to thank all the people who worked hard to restore this place, and to say clearly; that hate cannot win."

PHOTO: Yinon Reuveni hears his verdict at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on December 12, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)


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