Arab Israelis demonstrate after mosque attack

Arab Israelis demonstrate after mosque attack

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arab Israelis demonstrated after a mosque in a town in the lower Galilee was destroyed in a fire suspected to be a price tag attack.

Residents of the Bedouin Arab town of Tuba-Zangariyye threw rocks at Israeli security forces and set tires on fire during a protest march Monday, hours after the mosque in their village was set alight, destroying holy books and prayer rugs.

Graffiti, including the words “price tag” and “Palmer” were spray painted on the walls of the mosque, according to reports. Police have reportedly arrested some suspects in the Sunday night arson attack.

Price tag refers to the strategy that extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or for Palestinian attacks on Jews. Palmer likely refers to Israeli Asher Palmer, who died on Sept. 23 along with his infant son after a rock thrown in an apparent terrorist attack crashed through the windshield of his car, causing him to lose control of the car, which then flipped over.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “outraged by the images” of the arson attack and that “this crime contravenes the values of the State of Israel, in which freedom of religion and freedom of worship are supreme values.”

President Shimon Peres also condemned the attack, saying that “This is a time for reflection, in which we should condemn such acts among us, acts that sabotage the relationship between us and our neighbors and between the different religions living in Israel.”

Residents have blamed extremists from the nearby town of Safed.

The American Jewish Committee called the attack “despicable.”

“This assault on a Muslim house of worship in Israel, which has gone to great lengths to protect freedom of worship and foster a spirit of mutual respect, is outrageous,” said AJC director David Harris. “The perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”