An unknown intruder climbed over the fence surrounding the Hassan Bek Mosque in Tel Aviv early Tuesday morning and vandalized the courtyard area, damaging some of the religious site's property.
Muslim worshippers arriving for morning prayers notified the police. Hayarkon District Police said they were investigating a complaint that someone entered the mosque compound and vandalized planters in the area.
The mosque has been the scene of vandalism in the past. A few years ago, someone threw a pig's head wrapped with a kaffiyah into the mosque compound, sparking a wave of protest.
Nawar Daka, the mosque's imam, told Ynet that "at around 4 am, someone hopped over the fence and entered the mosque compound. He started breaking objects and doors and pulled flowers out their planters. The damage is not very serious but I don't want to think about what would have happened if he would have managed to enter inside (the mosque).
"Fortunately he wasn't able to. There is a guard during the night but he leaves at a certain hour. (Once he left) the man apparently entered. People usually arrive to the mosque around 4:30 am, and when they noticed the damage they immediately called police."
Damage caused to mosque's planters (Photo: Yaron Brener)
In response to a question about whether the mosque had been the target of many attacks since the one involving the pig's head, the imam said "every once in a while, people pass by and throw a bottle or a rock. One time, a man came and threatened to burn the mosque down. These stories occur about once every two months."
One of the worshippers told Ynet that "the hatred drives the extremists crazy. This a grave act that is part of a series of harassment the mosque has suffered. The police must put an end to the recurring and repeated harassment to this mosque."
Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said in response to the report, "This is the fourth time the mosque is damaged, and it's the police's fault for not dealing with these incidents in the past."
Zahalka said he would ask Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter to make the investigation into the incident a top priority.
At the end of 2006, the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentenced Shimon Ben-Chaim, 35, of Tel Aviv to nine months in prison for throwing the pig's head at the mosque along with his partner.
Jonathan Weber, Avi Cohen and Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report