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Radical Vandals Suspected in Israeli Mosque Torching


Copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, were also burned...

JERUSALEM (The Blaze/AP) -- Vandals torched a mosque in an Arab village in northern Israel early Monday, setting off protests and clashes with police. Graffiti spray-painted on the mosque's walls suggested Jewish radicals were involved.

According to CNN, "Kamal Khatib of the Islamic Movement in Israel said the mosque attack points to the fact that 'Jewish hands' were behind the attack."

About 200 residents of the village of Tuba-Zangria, Arab citizens of Israel, marched to a major intersection nearby with the intention of blocking the road in protest, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Some of the demonstrators set tires on fire and threw stones at police officers, who dispersed the crowd with tear gas, Rosenfeld said. No one was injured.

Police were mobilized in the area to prevent further disturbances and were meeting with village leaders in an effort to defuse tensions, he added. No unrest was reported inside the village.

Rosenfeld said a carpet was burned inside the mosque and interior walls were damaged. Copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, were also burned, Israeli media reported.

Rosenfeld said the words "price tag" were spray painted on the building - reference to a settler practice of attacking Palestinians and their property in retaliation for Palestinian attacks and government operations against settlements. Reuters has more:

"The whole mosque was burned -- the carpet, the books, the Korans, all burned," the village imam, Fuad Zangariya, told Army Radio. Zanagariya said the words "Palmer" and "revenge" were sprayed on the entrance to the mosque.

Several weeks ago the government destroyed unauthorized structures in an unauthorized Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank, and the operation that was followed immediately by another mosque torching.

Army Radio reported that the family name of a settler and his infant son killed last week in a car crash near the West Bank town of Hebron was also scrawled on a wall. Israeli police have said Palestinian rock-throwers struck the man in the head, causing him to lose control of the car.

Rosenfeld said security was heightened across northern Israel following the attack. A large concentration of Israeli Arabs lives in northern Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the mosque attack, and ordered the Shin Bet internal security agency to act quickly to locate the assailants. A text message from his office said he "was fuming when he saw the pictures."

According to Netanyahu's office, he said, "The images are shocking and do not belong in the state of Israel." He continued, "This is an act which is against the values of the state of Israel, which places supreme importance on freedom of religion and freedom of worship."

Most "price tag" actions are carried out in the West Bank, and attacks on mosques inside Israel are more rare. This particular village is near Safed, where a rabbi urged followers last year not to rent or sell homes to Arabs, who account for one-fifth of Israel's population of some 7.6 million.

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