Israel police say mosque arson suspect arrested

AFP , Thursday 6 Oct 2011

Israeli police investigate Tuba Zangaria mosque attack, arrest suspect and 7 others who are suspected of protesting after arson

Israel's President Shimon Peres (3rd R) stands with Israel's Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger (L) and Shlomo Amar (2nd L) and local Sheikhs during his visit to a burnt mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria in northern Israel, Monday, (Reuters).

Israeli police said on Thursday they have arrested a suspect in the arson attack on a mosque in northern Israel, after a gag order on details of his detention was lifted.

The suspect, who was arrested on Monday just hours after the attack, appeared before a court in Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv where his remand in custody was extended until October 11, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

But he refused to give details about the man's identity or place of residence.

Earlier on Thursday, police arrested seven more people suspected of joining violent protests in Tuba Zangaria village in the northern Galilee region that erupted hours after the arson attack was discovered on Monday morning.

"We arrested another seven people suspected of taking part in the demonstrations, which raises to 25 the total number of people being investigated over the incidents," Rosenfeld told AFP.

Angry Bedouin youths have been demonstrating since the attack, throwing stones at police and torching public buildings, including the local council building, a health clinic and a cultural centre.

Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai said the government was responsible for fixing the mosque, and helping the village.

"We will do whatever it takes to bring life back to normal, and continue the relations between us and our neighbors, members of other religions living in Israel," he said during a tour of Tuba Zangaria.

The attack, which sparked a wave of international condemnation, is believed to be the work of Jewish extremists. The probe, being conducted by the Shin Bet internal security agency, is largely under a gag order.

The mosque was badly damaged by fire with the perpetrators scrawling the words "tag" and "revenge" on the walls, in what police described as "a very severe price tag incident."

The term usually refers to acts of vengeance against Palestinians and their property by Jewish settlers in the West Bank over efforts to rein in settlement building.

Although such acts normally occur in the West Bank, a similar attack targeted another mosque in Ibtin village of northern Israel last year.

The desecration of the Tuba Zangaria mosque was condemned by top Israeli political and religious figures, as well as sparking angry protests among village residents who clashed with police.

Tuba Zangaria lies seven kilometres (four miles) from the northern town of Safed where a local rabbi last year sparked outrage after calling on Jews to avoid renting or selling property to Arabs.

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