A mosque was apparently set alight in the West Bank on Wednesday, hours after a firebomb was thrown at an 18th-century synagogue in the Arab town of Shfaram in the Galilee.
Judea and Samaria District police received a call early in the morning about a fire at a mosque in Mughayir, 27 km. northeast of Ramallah.
Pictures posted online hours later showed heavy fire damage, both inside and outside the building.
Police dispatched officers from the anti-nationalist crimes unit and forensic investigators to the scene, where they were joined by officers from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The investigators were escorted by IDF troops, but it took hours for them to get the go-ahead to enter the area, because of violent disturbances by locals, police said.
By mid-afternoon they had made their way into the mosque and began collecting evidence.
The fire – suspected to have been “price-tag” vandalism carried out by Jewish extremists – was condemned by Israeli politicians.
Islamic Jihad warned that Israel should expect a response to the arson.
The “crime of the torching of the mosque shows the readiness of the Zionists to launch more assaults on private property and holy sites,” the terrorist organization said.
The “terrorism of the settlers and occupation army will be met with a Palestinian will that does not accept submission and surrender,” it continued.
“Those who incite to kill our people and damage their properties and mosques should expect a response in any moment.”
The Palestinian Authority- appointed mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, condemned the torching of the mosque and accused Israel of waging a religious war on the Muslims.
Senior Fatah official Sultan Abu al-Einain called on Palestinians to form “defense committees” to foil attacks by Jewish extremists in the West Bank.
Abu al-Einain, who is close to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that settlers who set fire to a mosque should not “return alive to settlements.”
Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) said, “No to ‘price tag,’ no to taking the law in our own hands.”
Regev called for the Jewish leadership in Judea and Samaria to send that message to “the Jewish extremist minority that is trying to set things on fire,” both literally and figuratively.
MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) said that “price-tag” incidents are part of a deliberate strategy to incite to racism.
“Netanyahu and his ministers are at the head of the oiled, villainous incitement machine that sends citizens to commit acts of terrorism and violence,” he said. “These terrorists feed off of calls for hatred and racism from their spiritual fathers in the Knesset and the cabinet.”
According to Ghattas, Netanyahu is to blame for acts of revenge and “his long arm reached the mosque that was burned tonight.”
A Balad party spokesman said that the incident was not only an attack on a mosque and its holiness, but also on the value of life and equal rights for Israeli Arabs, and on democratic values.
“It is our right to fight against violence and racism, and this is not an escalation by the Arab public; rather, it is an unwillingness to accept the existing racist situation, and a justified, legal opposition to oppression,” the spokesman said.
Also on Wednesday morning, Northern District police reported that at 11:30 on Tuesday night, a firebomb was thrown at an 18th-century synagogue in Shfaram. The bottle full of flammable liquid hit outside the synagogue, causing minor damage but no injuries, police said.
The synagogue made the news back in May when, after a string of “price-tag” attacks, a group of Arab youths from Shfaram and young Jews teamed together to renovate the synagogue.
Shfaram has about 40,000 residents, mostly Sunnis, along with significant Christian and Druse minorities.