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Attack by Three Israelis at Nazareth Church Sparks Riot

There's been trouble at one of the holy sites of Christianity in the Holy Land. At least eight people, including five police, were injured in the unrest.

Three Israelis disguised as Christian pilgrims entered the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and threw firecrackers.

The incident sparked a riot in the Israeli Arab town, as angry +residents clashed with police, who threw stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The attackers barricaded themselves in the building for several hours before police broke through the crowd of several thousand protesters to free them.

"The people are very angry," Jerayssi told Israeli television. "This is an extremely grave incident at one of the holiest places in Christianity, and they came here to defend the church," said Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jerayssi.

The Church of the Annunciation marks the site where, according to the Bible, the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.

Police say the three Israelis involved in the incident were not members of a militant group and were apparently not motivated by nationalism. They were identified as a Jerusalem couple known to authorities, who had been treated for psychiatric problems in the past. The third person was a woman.

The incident underscores the simmering religious tensions between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. As Israel's public security minister put it: "It is very important to put out this small flame so that it won't become a huge fire."