Arab member of Knesset, Wasel Taha, slammed an Israeli court decision to imprison an Arab resident of Nazareth for defending the Basilica of Annunciation Church in the city after in came under attack by an extremist Israeli couple. Jeffry Abu Sinna was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for participating in defending the church which was attacked by Odilia Habibi and his wife who hurled fire crackers and gas bombs at the church setting part of it on fire.
Jeffry will hand himself to the police by the beginning of this coming month and will be imprisoned for eight months while the couple who attacked the church are free, the Arabs48 news website reported.
Taha said that Jeffry will be behind bars for defending himself and defending the church as thousands of residents rushed to save the church and clashed with the Israeli police who provided protection to the assailants.
Taha demanded the Israeli Justice Minister, and the Israeli President, to reconsider this ruling and release Jeffry. “It unbelievable”, Taha said, “The attackers are free while the victim is behind bars”.
After the attack, Habibi was “sentenced” to house arrest. The attack was carried out while Christians were attending lent services in the Church.
The church marks the site where, by Christian tradition, the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear the baby Jesus.
Background of the attack:
In March 2006, Haim Habibi, his wife Violet and their daughter entered that 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, the Nazareth District Court stated in its indictment.
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.