Couple Who Attacked Nazareth Church Sentenced

Nazareth District Court sentenced Haim Habibi to three years in prison and three years probation yesterday in connection with an attack on the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Habibi was convicted of unruliness, public disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Habibi's wife was convicted of assault and sentenced to six months probation.

The couple entered the packed church last March armed with firecrackers, small gas tanks, and other flammable material.

According to the sentencing document, the couple poured oil on the firecrackers and gas tanks and set fire to them.

The ensuing explosion caused commotion in the area, and passersby grabbed hold of the Habibi couple.

A large number of the town's residents gathered outside to protest the attack on the church, one of Christianity's holy sites. Only after several hours were police able to evacuate the suspects from the area.

According to the sentencing document, the couple carried out the attack in order to "raise public awareness regarding the injustice suffered" as a result of the authorities' attempt to remove their child from their custody against their will.