An Israeli couple and their daughter were indicted on Thursday for trying to set fire to the Basilica of the Annuciation in Nazareth, one of the holiest sites in Christendom.
The attack took place two weeks ago, on the eve of Lent, as hundreds of Arab Christian worshippers were praying in the church during the Lent Service. The three Israelis, dressed as pilgrims, had disguised explosives, including 19 gas bombs, 25 mini-rockets and 64 firecrackers, in a baby carriage and entered the crowded church intending to cause injury to worshippers and burn the holy site down. They also allegedly threatened to set fire to the church security guard and to blow up the shrine.
The church, known as the Basilica of the Annunciation, marks the site where, by Christian tradition, the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear the baby Jesus.
The indictment, filed in Nazareth District Court, charges the three: Haim Habibi, Violet Habibi, and their daughter with conspiracy to commit a crime, arson, use of explosives to destroy an asset, rioting, unacceptable behavior in a public place, and threatening to blow up the church. Violet Habibi was also charged with assault.
According to the indictment, the three entered the church carrying 19 gas canisters, bottles of turpentine and kerosene, 64 firecrackers and 25 rocket-shaped fireworks. They placed the fireworks and the gas canisters in a corner of the prayer area, and Violet Habibi then poured kerosene on them.
After they set off firecrackers and fireworks, causing a small fire to start in the church, Violet Habibi threw kerosene on a church worker who tried to stop them, the indictment said.
It said that the three had planned the incident with great care, and that Haim Habibi had spoken in advance of their intentions.