Rioters torched tires on route 90
Photo: Panet Website
Torched Tuba Zangaria
Photo: Ismail al-Hayeb

Police to bolster security around mosques nationwide

Security forces to augment patrols around Muslim site after another mosque was torched in 'price tag' incident. President Peres, chief rabbis Amar and Metzger visit scene, denounced 'blasphemous act'

The Israel Police will bolster its presence around mosques nationwide after one such premises was set on fire in an Upper Galilee village overnight Monday.


Police Operations Division Chief Nissim Mor ordered the department to augment patrols around mosques and other Muslim holy sites for fear that they could become targets of similar hostile "price tag" acts.


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Special task forces are also to be established to deal with "price tag" incidents and riots.


Police Comissioner Yohanan Danino instructed the forces to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards rioters and violators of the law, while continuing to communicate with local authorities to restore public order.


Video: Ido Becker


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Monday afternoon saw Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visit the Tuba Zangaria scene, to personally inspect the damage.


"This sight is difficult to see. This was a heinous crime. Harming holy sites in the last thing we expected and the perpetrators will be found," he said. "We have increased the investigating team on the case, and I for one am confident that we will get the people behind this.


"They are destroying the fabric of our lives. We are all brothers in the Middle East. This incident will not ruin our relationship."


President Shimon Peres, accompanied by chief rabbis Shlomo Moshe Amar and Yona Metzger and Muslim, Christian and Druze leaders, also visited the site: "I am appalled by what happened here. Shocked to my core. This isn’t just against the law, it goes against the Jewish religion and against morals," he said.


"Seeing what happened here fills me with shame," Peres continued. "We will not accept it. There's isn’t a single Israel who isn’t ashamed by this.


"We all want to live in this country as citizens with equal rights, each of us according to their own faith. It is our duty to protect these places," the president said.


הנשיא והרבנים הראשיים הגיעו לטובא זנגריה  (צילום: אביהו שפירא)

Shocked to the core. Peres (Photo: Avihu Shapira)


Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, also expressed his shock of the act: "We, as Jews, remember what it was like when our books were burnt and we cannot abide such actions against any other religion.


"For us – a synagogue, a mosque, a church – they are considered embassies of God, and you do not harm embassies," he said.


Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar added that the assault on the mosque was "blasphemous... and it's an assault on all of our hearts. We urge all leaders to speak against terror – and such acts are acts of terror.


"We urged (leaders) to speak against hatred and for tolerance; to listen to each other, to understand each other and to accept each other with friendship," he said.


Rabbi Amar suggested the arson was not done by Jews, claiming the connection between "Price Tag" and the fire was a "blood libel."


He later clarified his statements saying: "We are experienced. It is well know that each generation has known blood libels. A Christian child was murdered and the Jews were blames for it. They ravaged entire communities, killed and destroyed based on these false libels."


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) decried the mosque arson as well. ADL Director Abraham Foxman issued the following statement: "We join with the leadership and people of the State of Israel in expressing shock and outrage at this heinous attack.


"This act is a fundamental contradiction of the 'morals and spirit' of Israel… We welcome the announcement by Israeli police that they will enhance security near Muslim holy sites across Israel, and establish a special force to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators.


"However, as we have said after the attacks on West Bank mosques in recent months, Israeli society must do more. There have already been too many 'wake-up calls' about the violence and hatred among fringe groups of Israeli Jewish extremists. Israeli society must make clear that violence is never acceptable, whatever the grievance, whatever the issue, and must continue to reinforce this core value of Israeli society," the statement concluded.


'Village's residents serve in IDF'

Residents of the village who gathered near the burnt mosque on Monday afternoon expressed anger at the hostile act.


"More than 300 people who live in the village serve in the army," one resident said.


Many cast blame on Safed residents, headed by the city's chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, for enflaming the tension. "This is the Safed's rabbi's edification, this is criminality," Shiekh Muhammad of Daburiyya said. "Is this how they want to be good neighbors?"


Earlier Monday some 300 residents of the village clashed with security forces after disrupting traffic on Route 90 in response to the attack. Some protesters hurled stones at officers and torched tires. Police forces used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the riots.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the attack, saying "the act went against the State of Israel's values. Freedom of religion and freedom to worship are supreme values."


Maor Buchnik contributed to the report




פרסום ראשון: 10.03.11, 16:22
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