An 12th-century mosque in the capital was burned and covered with anti-Arab graffiti on Wednesday morning.Police believe it was the latest “price tag” attack, committed by extremists angry at government plans to dismantle unauthorized West Bank outposts.RELATED:Analysis: Time to create deterrenceEditorial: Fighting extremismNo one was injured.The Nebi Akashi mosque, on Strauss Street in downtown Jerusalem, is used by the municipality to store gardening supplies.Vandals broke into the mosque and tried to set it on fire. The building was badly burned on one side but not structurally damaged. The walls were covered with graffiti, among which were “A good Arab is a dead Arab,” “price tag,” “Muhammad is dead” and “Muhammad is a pig.”
The criminals also wrote “Mitzpe Yitzhar,” the name of an illegal outpost near Nablus. Parts of that outpost, along with parts of the Ramat Gilad outpost on the outskirts of the Karnei Shomron settlement, are set to be demolished soon.Officials were quick to condemn the attack.Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat visited the mosque on Wednesday morning. “We have zero tolerance for any type of violence,” he said.“It is appalling... Hopefully the police will find whoever it is and put them where they belong,” he later told The Jerusalem Post.On Wednesday afternoon, police took six right-wing activists in for questioning in connection with crimes with nationalistic motives, including the recent spate of “price tag” attacks. The police’s presence in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem drew dozens of young activists, and a short scuffle ensued with activists trying to get into the activists’ apartment.Police also removed what they termed “suspicious objects” they believe are connected to the crimes. The six men were in detention on Wednesday night.Three fire crews quickly put out the blaze, but it had already caused significant smoke damage, and some outside walls were blackened.Investigators said that material gathered from the site pointed to arson. Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) opened a joint investigation. In addition, two Palestinian vehicles were set on fire in the West Bank early on Wednesday.Police increased their presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank following the rise in the number of far-right attacks.
A vehicle was torched in the Palestinian village of Haras overnight, and far-right graffiti was spray painted on it. In the village of Yassuf, hate-graffiti was spray-painted on a Palestinian home.In the village of Duma, 25 km. southeast of Nablus, two trucks were set on fire. The words “price tag” and the name of the Mitzpe Yitzhar outpost were spray-painted in large black letters on the nearby sidewalk.In Tel Aviv, far-right graffiti was spray-painted on a police vehicle used for crowd control, and an IDF office was vandalized with graffiti as well.Meanwhile, 15 suspects arrested earlier this week for breaking through the fence on the Jordanian border are due to appear before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Friday for a second remand hearing.“We’re seeing one incident sparking another rapidly,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “We have stepped up patrols in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, to prevent any other incidents, but [these attacks are] obviously flowing to areas where they would not normally take place.”In recent weeks, four suspects were charged for a variety of vandalism and arson offenses, representing the first indictments brought by prosecutors over such incidents.Lahav Harkov and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.