Arson, 'price tag' suspected at J'lem mosque

Firefighters find anti-Muslim graffiti, "price tag" written on walls of out-of-use mosque; Palestinian vehicles set ablaze.

vandalism at Jerusalem mosque_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
vandalism at Jerusalem mosque_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
On old mosque on in Jerusalem was burned and covered with anti-Arab graffiti early on Wednesday morning in the latest price tag attack by right-wing extremists angry at government policies. The mosque, on Strauss Street near downtown Jerusalem, is no longer in use.
Overnight, extremists broke into the mosque and tried to set it on fire. The mosque was badly burned by not structurally damaged. The walls were covered with graffiti, including “A good Arab is a dead Arab,” “price tag,” “Muhammad is dead” and “Muhammad is a pig.”
The extremists also wrote “Mitzpe Yitzahar,” referring to an illegal West Bank outpost that could be demolished along with parts of Ramat Gilad in the coming days.
Officials were quick to condemn the attack. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat
visited the mosque early on Wednesday morning. “We have zero tolerance
for any type of violence,” he said.
Three fire crews responded to the early morning blaze, and encountered a fire raging in one of the western rooms of the mosque. The fire was quickly put out, but caused significant smoke damage, and some of the walls were blackened. Fire investigators said that material gathered from the site of the fire points to arson. Police and the Shin Bet opened a joint investigation.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) called the incident "a hate crime," explaining that it is part of the same wave of violence that led activists to throw rocks at IDF officers on Tuesday.
"Thisisn't a small group. It’s a group of Israeli extremists that is constantly growing and trying to forcefully turn Israel into a differentstate – a state in their extreme, nationalist and violent image, without laws and courts," she said.
According to Livni, the so-called "price tag" violence is an attempt to force an extreme right-wing ideology on the majority.
Livni called for "the Zionist majority to take back the state, and prove that some lines can't be crossed."
She also said the government must arrest all of those involved in this week's incidents and punish them harshly and continue evacuating illegal outposts in order to show that the law in Israel is enforced.
Palestinian vehicle set on fire in
Palestinian vehicle set on fire in
In addition to the incident at the mosque, two Palestinian vehicles were set on fire in the West Bank early on Wednesday. A car was set on fire in Kfar Yasuf near Hebron and an additional vehicle was set ablaze in Kfar Hars near Kalkilya. Graffiti was sprayed on the vehicles in both instances, the IDF stated.  Security services were investigating the events.
In another attack overnight, a truck was set alight in Kfar Duma. The perpetrators also attempted to torch a Palestinian-owned taxi, and sprayed graffiti in  the area saying "Mitzpe Yitzhar- mutual responsibility."
The suspected arson came after right wing extremists in the Samaria area of the West Bank attacked a military base, two IDF commanders and Palestinian vehicles late Monday night and early Tuesday morning to protest the pending demolition of the unauthorized Ramat Gilad outpost.
As a result of Monday’s and Tuesday’s “price-tag” actions in the Jordan Valley and against the IDF, the government will significantly beef up intelligence efforts among right-wing extremists and increase the number of people to be barred from the West Bank.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened an urgent meetingof top IDF, police, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and justice officials after the attack Tuesday morning on an IDF base in Samaria, todevelop a plan to deal with these types of actions.
Netanyahu spoke forcefully against the events, at a Jerusalem speech to a NationalDefense College alumni event Tuesday evening – the third time during the day that he went on record about the occurrences, and an obvious effort to signal the gravity with which he viewed them.
“We need to stop bad things when they are small, and this is small andwe will stop it now,” he said.
“Nobody has any justification or excuse for not obeying the law.”
Lahav Harkov, staff, Herb Keinon, Tovah Lazaroff, Ben Hartman and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report