Jewish teen held for Galilee mosque arson

Police probe whether suspect is part of "price-tag" cell.

Tuba Zanghariya mosque arson suspect 311 (photo credit: Benjamin Spier)
Tuba Zanghariya mosque arson suspect 311
(photo credit: Benjamin Spier)
A young Orthodox man from the North was arrested hours after an Upper Galilee Beduin mosque was torched last Sunday, on suspicion of being behind the attack, police revealed on Thursday, following the partial lifting of a media ban.
The 18-year-old suspect, who studied in a West Bank yeshiva and spent time in the Yitzhar settlement, was arrested a few hours after the main mosque in Tuba Zanghariya was set on fire, according to his attorney, Adi Kedar.
Confusion, sorrow over Tuba Zanghariya mosque arson
He was arrested along with two other suspects in the northern West Bank, far from the crime scene, initially on suspicion of the illegal use of a vehicle.
Within hours, however, police linked him to the mosque vandalism, Kedar said.
The suspect has refused to utter a word during police questioning, as “he does not trust police,” the lawyer said. “He denies everything.”
Police are believed to be investigating the possibility that the suspect is part of a wider right-wing cell of “price tag” attackers who evaded capture until now. The suspect was previously served with a restraining order banning him from an area in the West Bank.
At a second remand hearing before the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court, Judge Michael Karshen extended the suspect’s custody by five days, and said the initial suspicions against him “had only strengthened.”
Kedar called the police’s request to keep the suspect in custody for an additional 11 days “exaggerated.”
A “strange sequence of events led to the suspect’s arrest in Samaria,” the judge said. “There is no actual evidence against him.”
The suspect is said by police to have entered the mosque in Tuba Zanghariya early on October 3, setting it on fire and causing heavy damage, and spray-painting far- Right graffiti on the walls.
During Thursday’s hearing, Kedar asked what evidence police had to link the suspect to the incident and called for his client to be released.
A police representative said basic forensic evidence had been taken from the scene of the crime but refused to provide further details.
Five Orthodox youths appeared in the court’s public gallery to show support for the suspect, occasionally waving and smiling at him. He smiled back.
Vandalism against a Jewish holy site was also reported on Thursday morning, when soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus found hostile graffiti and swastikas spray-painted on the walls. The markings were then painted over.
About 1,300 Jews prayed at the site on Wednesday night, in coordination with the IDF and security forces at the tomb.
Also on Thursday, three residents of Tuba Zanghariya suspected of rioting against police in the aftermath of the mosque incident were remanded in custody for three days at the Safed Magistrate’s Court, while four other suspected rioters were ordered kept in custody for another day.