United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
NEW YORK - In a statement delivered by his spokesperson on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the 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 entered the synagogue late Friday night, gathered the prayer books into a pile and lit them.
The synagogue, located in the outpost of Givat Sorek, had been built in memory of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrah, the three teenagers who were kidnapped and killed by Hamas in the summer of 2014.
The Secretary-General 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 had 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 at the UN Danny Danon as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly criticized the Secretary-General’s words, saying they provide justification for Palestinian terror.
Danon also sent him an official letter to demand a retraction of these statements, explaining they are being used by terrorists to justify the killing of Israelis, including 19-year-old Border Police officer Hadar Cohen 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: Terror against Israel, and then the rest of the world.”
"Since when is it the job of the UN to find justifications for terror?," 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 of Israeli victims."