'Arson at mosque part of plot to rid Palestine of Islam'

Hamas's Haniyeh says that "Zionist rabbis" called for burning of Tuba Zanghariya mosque as part of larger plot to silence "voice of Islam."

ismail haniyeh_311 reuters (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
ismail haniyeh_311 reuters
(photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that the apparent "price-tag" attack on a mosque in the Beduin village of Tuba Zanghariya in Israel is part of a larger operation to obliterate the "foundations of Islamic civilization on Palestinian land," Hamas-affiliate Al Resalah reported on Thursday.
Haniyeh, who made the comments from an International Book Fair in Gaza City, said that operations like the arson at the Tuba mosque followed the instruction of "Zionist rabbis" who call for the burning of mosques and the Koran.
Tuba residents march, clash with police after mosque arson
Palestinians report further 'price tag' attack in W. Bank
Such operations, Haniyeh explained according to Al Resalah, are part of larger attempts to silence the voice of Islam in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948.
The Hamas leader praised the strike announced today in cities and villages across the Galilee condemning the burning of the Al-Noor mosque in Tuba Zanghariya.
Despite Haniyeh's claim that rabbis were the first to call for vandalism at Islamic sites, many Jewish leaders did condemn the attacks, and even urged for a shared effort in restoring the damaged property.
Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger on Monday accompanied President Shimon Peres on a solidarity visit to the burnt mosque, along with Christian, Druse and Muslim leaders, and denounced the attack in equally strong terms.
“We must cry out against this deed, it is a hilul Hashem [desecration of God’s name]. All leaders should speak against this act of terror and hate,” Amar said, calling for religious leaders to preach love and tolerance of the other.
“We remember as Jews when other people burned our synagogues and burned our Torah scrolls. We cannot accept such acts against other religions,” he said. “A church, mosque, temple or synagogue are embassies of God and you cannot harm such places. We strongly protest such actions.”
Other religious groups also condemned the incident, including a group of rabbis of northern communities and yeshivas who said that if it was indeed perpetrated by Jews it should be denounced, calling the incident inhuman, unethical and completely incompatible with the Torah, halacha and Jewish values.
Head of the Reform movement in Israel, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, said that such actions could ignite a wave of large-scale religious and nationalist violence. The movement said it would contribute money towards for the restoration of the mosque.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.