Israeli settler leader calls for setting churches alight

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An Israeli settler leader has called for arson attacks to be carried out against churches, media reports say.

Benzi Gopstein, the head of the extremist Lehava organization, made the remarks Thursday during a panel discussion, addressing students studying traditional religion.

When asked if he thought churches should be set ablaze, he replied by saying “of course.”

He said that churches should be set on fire in order to condemn what he called Christian “idol worship.”

Also, when journalists present at the discussion warned Gopstein that his statements were being recorded and he could face consequences, the Israeli said he was willing to spend 50 years in prison for his remarks.

In June, Israeli settlers torched the Church of the Multiplication, located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. They also left behind Hebrew graffiti on the walls, including “the worship of idols.”

The Israelis also set on fire a church building belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in February.

This comes days after an arson attack by Israeli settlers on Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank. An 18-month-old child was burnt to death and his family seriously injured as a result of the attack, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Israeli settlers have increased their attacks and hate crimes against Christians and Muslims, as well as their holy sites.  They are rarely prosecuted.

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