(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community to condemn Friday night’s Palestinian arson attack on a synagogue in the West Bank outpost of Givat Sorek.
“I expect from everyone in the country and around the world who rightly condemn every desecration of a mosque or writing of graffiti on mosques, including the burning of mosques, I expect them to come out with the same cry against, and condemnation of, this abhorrent act,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting.
The outpost, which is solely made up of a modular synagogue, is built outside the Karmei Tzur settlement in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
It was built in memory of the three teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, who were kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in the summer of 2014. It is located near the spot where the bodies of the three teens were found.
Police suspect that late Friday night Palestinians from the nearby village of Halhoul entered the synagogue. They gathered the prayer books into a pile and lit them.
The blaze was discovered and extinguished by the settlement’s security team.
Netanyahu told his cabinet, “We are in a harsh struggle between those who – like us – seek coexistence and peace, and those who seek war and bloodshed.”
He described the arson attack and added, “We will do our utmost to find the arsonists and bring them to justice.”
In a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, Netanyahu said that the attack was “the result of incessant Palestinian incitement.”
President Reuven Rivlin said, “This strike on our sanctity is even more harmful, as it was perpetrated at a place that was dedicated to the memory of Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali, who were murdered brutally.”
The Israeli nongovernmental organization Rabbis for Human Rights called the incident “shocking” and “heinous.” Yet, it noted that the small unauthorized synagogue was under a demolition order and was built on land that was taken from Palestinians.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said that the synagogue’s location was irrelevant because “the terrorist who carried out this act wanted to harm us as Jewish.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said that the images of the burned prayer books were reminiscent of the worst nights in the history of the Jewish nation.
“It crosses a redline and should not be tolerated,” Bennett said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) called the attack barbaric and said it was not the first time the synagogue had been targeted.
Edelstein added that it was the “rotten fruit of Palestinian incitement against anything Jewish.”