Israel mosque torched

AFP , Monday 3 Oct 2011

Vandals torch a mosque in northern Israel in a suspected revenge attack by right-wing extremists that sparked a "furious" response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday

Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/File Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted with fury on Monday after seeing pictures of a mosque in northern Israel which was torched overnight, a statement from his office said

The mosque, located in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria, sustained heavy damage in the overnight attack, in which the arsonists scrawled the words "tag" and "revenge" on the walls.

Police described the attack as "a very severe price tag incident" -- a term which usually refers to acts of vengeance against Palestinians and their property by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

"The images are shocking and do not belong in the state of Israel," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying in a statement.

"This is an act which is against the values of the state of Israel, which places supreme importance on freedom of religion and freedom of worship," he was quoted as saying.

The attackers also graffitied the word "Palmer" on the walls in an apparent reference to Asher Palmer, an Israeli settler who died with his infant son in the southern West Bank on September 23 after his car was hit by stones thrown by Palestinians, causing it to crash.

Although such acts of vengeance normally occur in the occupied West Bank, a similar attack took place in Ibtin, another Arab Israeli village in Northern Israel, last year.

The attack sparked anger in the village, with a few hundred residents burning tyres and trying to block a road in the area, police said.

Protesters threw stones at police, who used tear gas to disperse the crowds, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, saying police representatives were talking to village leaders "in an effort to calm things down."

Northern District Police Commander Roni Attia described the attack as "a very severe price tag incident" and set up a special investigation team to deal with it, police said.

He also called on residents of the area to preserve public order and allow the police to investigate without disturbances.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch strongly condemned the incident.

"An attack on holy places is an atrocious and despicable act, that cannot be ignored," he said in a statement.

"I spoke with the police commissioner and was updated on the police's treatment of the event and on their determination to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice."

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