On Wednesday, March 8th, the chapel of the Ascension, located at the top of the Mount of Olives, was damaged by a voluntary fire. The police is conducting an investigation. The incident may be related to a dispute between two families linked to the holy place. One person was allegedly arrested for questioning.
In all likelihood, a car tire may have been laid and burnt on the revered rock. The cabinet containing the postcards and religious items sold by a Muslim family authorized by the Waqf, was also damaged.
The Chapel of the Ascension is one of the four shared holy places that depend on the Statu Quo. The status quo governs how the churches share the use, it's space and time of use.
Of the four holy places*, 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 Crusaders period. It was built in the place of a previous church destroyed in 614 by the Persians.
The photos taken today show that the fire has left a heavy soot on the walls. The condition of the joints between the stones may need examination.
This year, all Christian denominations will celebrate the rise of Jesus in heaven on May 25th in this holy place, 40 days after Easter.
* 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.