The words "Arabs out" were spray painted on a wall of the Abu-Bakr Al-Siddiq mosque in Umm al-Fahm, and its entrance door was set on fire.
Umm al-Fahm police has launched an investigation into the incident, and the immediate suspicion was that the event was yet another 'price tag' hate crime attack. No suspects have yet to be arrested.
Sheikh Shafiq Mahagna, a prominent local figure, told Ynet: "After we discovered the fire, we called the police. The security cameras show three masked men involved in the fire and hateful graffiti step out of a car."
|Security camera footage of attack|
He further claimed that "price tag attacks are not new, it happens in other places as well. This is a great disaster and the perpetrators must be arrested, as it is harmful to both nations and creates resentment among Muslims."
The mosque's Imam, Jamil Mahagna, supplied further details into the attack: "We arrived at the mosque at 4:30 am and noticed a fire at the entrance. We immediately extinguished it and called the police. We're lucky that the fire did not have time to spread."
The Imam called on the police to "arrest the criminals. Their only aim is to hurt relations between Arabs and Jews."
Hundreds of the Arab town's residents arrived at the mosque, and vowed to not let this incident go ignored.
"We have been silent long enough regarding 'price tag' attacks," said Ahmed Mahhamid, claiming such attacks must be stopped.
"This time, the response to this act should be strong; attacks on mosques cross a red line. Unfortunately, in the past the police have failed in their duties - they have failed to apprehend the criminals who stand behind the price tag attacks."
Dr Ziad Abu Mukh, the head of the Interior Ministry's Muslim desk, said: "This is a severe incident that is difficult to describe in words. The atrocious act was committed by a handful of people who have no religion or conscience – it's an act that triggers among Muslims harsh feelings. After a holy site is desecrated, no one wants to visit it any more."
In an appeal to the Inspector General of the Israel Police and interior minister, Abu Mukh asked that the perpetrators of the violent crime be brought to justice, adding that "this is a crime that is repeated over and over again."
Head of Umm al-Fahm police force, Chief Superintendent Shimon Azran, said: "We received a message regarding the torching of the mosque and immediately dispatched police units to the scene. This is a nationalistic hate crime, and Israel Police is a national police that serves all residents of the country. We have begun the investigation and will update when there are further developments. The residents of Umm al-Fahm can rest assured that the investigation will be thorough."
MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said: "Once again we witness a price tag attack, a provocative act. I blame the government for not doing anything to address this phenomenon; it does not give instructions to the police, which results in even more brash acts. One simply walks into a big city like Umm al-Fahm and burns a mosque's door. I can imagine what the government of Israel would have done if a synagogue in France would have been set on fire. Once, when graffiti was discovered in a Jewish cemetery, former president Jacques Chirac intervened and announced that strict action would be taken against the anti-Semites who committed the act."
Earlier this month, another 'price tag' attack took place in the Triangle area of the Galilee, in the village of Jish, when the tires of 40 vehicles were slashed and a nearby wall was spray painted with a message reading "only goyim should be evacuated from our land".
A week prior to that, another price tag event was documented in East Jerusalem, when the tires of 34 cars and a bus were slashed, and the vehicles were spray painted with the message "goyim in Israel = enemies."