Bedouin Arabs riot following mosque arson


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rioters in a Bedouin Arab town in northern Israel torched community buildings in the wake of an arson attack on a local mosque.

It was mostly youth from the village of of Tuba-Zangariyye who set fire to the council building Monday night and also seriously damaged the youth cultural center and village health clinic by breaking doors and windows, and damaging property inside. The rioters also threw rocks at police, they were dispersed with tear gas.

On Sunday night, the community’s mosque was set on fire, destroying holy books and prayer rugs.

Graffiti, including the words "price tag" and "Palmer," were spray-painted on the walls of the mosque, according to reports. Police reportedly have arrested some suspects in the Sunday night arson attack.

Price tag refers to the strategy that extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or for Palestinian attacks on Jews. Palmer likely refers to Israeli Asher Palmer, who was killed Sept. 23 along with his infant son after a rock thrown in an apparent terrorist attack crashed through the windshield of his car, causing him to lose control of the vehicle, which then flipped over. 

Residents of Tuba-Zangariyye, which has a population of slightly more than 5,000, have blamed extremists from the nearby town of Safed. The village also is near the Golan Heights.

Bedouin villages in the north have declared a general strike beginning Tuesday.

Israeli police have stepped up alerts in the area out of concern that Israeli Arabs will carry out revenge attacks, Haaretz reported.

The price tag attack was condemned across Israel’s political and religious spectrum and by Jewish organizations in the United States.

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