Jerusalem: Chapel of the Ascension, on Mount of Olives, damaged by fire

The Chapel of the Ascension, located at the top of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, was damaged in an arson attack on 8 March, the Custody of the Holy Land report.

Police are investigating the cause, but it appears that a car tyre was set on fire in the chapel. It had been laid on the rock, where, according to tradition dating from the early centuries of Christianity, Jesus ascended to heaven.

A stall containing postcards and religious souvenirs was also damaged.

The Chapel of the Ascension is one of the four holy places shared by several Christian denominations under a special agreement. The other three are the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Basilica of the Resurrection in the Old City and the Tomb of the Virgin in the Kidron Valley, near Gethsemane). This chapel is the only one under the jurisdiction of the Waqf, that is the Muslim authority of the holy places.

The present chapel dates from the Crusader period. It was built in the place of a previous church destroyed in 614 by the Persians.

The holy place is also often visited by Muslims - who believe in the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, but denying his death on the cross and his resurrection.