NEW YORK – In a statement delivered by his spokesperson on Monday, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon condemned an arson attack on a synagogue in the West Bank and called for a “thorough investigation to quickly bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Police suspect Palestinians from the village of Halhoul, near Hebron, entered the synagogue late Friday night, gathered prayer books into a pile and lit them on fire.
The synagogue in the outpost of Givat Sorek had been built in memory of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah, the three teenagers kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in June 2014.
Ban also called on all sides to “respect the sanctity of all holy sites, refrain from any inflammatory actions or statements and reject the extremist elements that are pursuing a political agenda seeking to transform the current situation into a religious conflict.”
Earlier this month, Ban infuriated Israeli officials at a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East by saying that “as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”
Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Danny Danon – as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – strongly criticized Ban’s words as providing justification for Palestinian terrorism.
Danon sent Ban a letter on Monday to demand a retraction of these statements, citing Israel’s latest victim of a Palestinian attack, 19-year-old Border Police officer Hadar Cohen, who was stabbed to death in Jerusalem last week.
“Palestinian terrorism is using your words to excuse its actions,” Danon wrote. “Your words have created two categories of terrorism: Terrorism against Israel, and then the rest of the world.”
“Since when is it the job of the UN to find justifications for terrorism?” Danon asked.
“Since when does the UN create two categories for terrorism and its victims?” The ambassador also urged Ban to “make it clear that there is no justification for the bloodshed by Israeli victims.”