May 26, 2014 / 8:59 PM / 5 years ago

Suspected arson damages book after papal visit to Jerusalem holy site

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Fire set by a suspected arsonist damaged a guest book at a Jerusalem holy site marking the location of Jesus’ last supper, in an attack on Monday that occurred several hours after Pope Francis had visited the site.

Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said police believed the arsonist was not Jewish and that an investigation was being conducted into the motive for the attack.

The site of the attack was the Dormition Abbey, a Catholic sanctuary atop Mount Zion in Jerusalem’s old city, the last stop of the pope’s two-day sojourn in the holy land.

Rosenfeld said that based on witness accounts, “someone walked into the church, then used a candle to set the fire, which was put out quickly,” causing some damage to the book.

He did not know whether the volume contained anything the pope may have written during his hour-long visit to the domed structure.

Israeli police mounted a massive security detail outside the church during the pope’s visit, fearing possible violence by ultra-nationalist Jews. They have protested at the site before against yielding any control over an area many orthodox Jews revere as the burial site of the biblical King David.

No disturbances were reported at the site while the pope was inside.

Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan

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