WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration condemned a mosque burning in northern Israel and backed Israeli efforts to track the perpetrators.
A U.S. State Department statement Tuesday "strongly" condemning the arson noted "that the Israeli Government also strongly condemned the attacks, and we endorse stepped-up efforts by law enforcement authorities to act vigorously to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act and similar attacks that have taken place in the West Bank."
On Sunday night, the community mosque in the Bedouin-Arab town of Tuba-Zangariyye in northern Israel 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.
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.
Major U.S. Jewish groups, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the foreign policy umbrella body, also have condemned the arson.
A New Israel Fund appeal to Jewish clergy to condemn the mosque’s burning and to thank Israel’s leadership for speaking out against it garnered nearly 400 signatures within three hours.