Jerusalem, Oct. 3 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and high-ranking ministers quickly condemned an attack on a mosque overnight Monday (Oct. 3) in Tuba Zangariya, a Bedouin village in Israel’s Galilee region, allegedly by far-right settlers.
Netanyahu was “outraged by the images” of the burning of the mosque and the graffiti slogans sprayed on its walls.
“This crime contravenes the values of the State of Israel, in which freedom of religion and freedom of worship are supreme values. The images are shocking and have no place in the State of Israel,” he said, according to a media statement put out by his office early Monday.
Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the attack “criminal” and vowed the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
Israel’s Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharanovitch responded by calling the incident a “criminal and despicable attack on a holy place,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Rabbis around Israel condemned the act, saying it is un-conciliatory with the ethos of Judaism and peace.
“This is a horrendous act that is totally incompatible with Jewish religious teaching and values,” Rabbi David Rosen, who chairs an interreligious coalition at the American Jewish Committee, told The Israel Project.
Leaders from Israel’s main religious council are visiting the village today in a show of support and solidarity. The group includes the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, the leader of the Druze faith, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, heads of the Ahmadiyya community and the Baha’i faith, bishops, qadis and other leaders.
Netanyahu instructed Israel Security Agency Director Yoram Cohen to “quickly find those responsible for arson at the mosque,” his media statement continued.
Roni Atiya, an Israeli police commander, confirmed that officers arrested several suspects in connection with the arson. “We are working hard to trace the culprits,” Atiya said, Israel’s YNet News reported. He also said police were doing everything in their power to prevent clashes between local residents and security forces.
In a reaction to the attack on the mosque, some 300 people marched from the village towards the nearby town, Rosh Pina, and threw stones at police and burned tires.
“We're talking to leaders of the community in order to calm the situation," said Israeli Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Last month, Israeli police officers announced the formation of a special task force to track down and arrest far-right extremists who were behind such incidents in the West Bank.