Israeli police arrest suspect in mosque arson

Story highlights

  • Police: A suspect in the burning of a mosque is in custody
  • Israeli media sources say the suspect is a Jewish yeshiva student from the northern West Bank
  • The mosque in Tuba-Zangariyye was burned and sprayed with graffiti Monday
Police in Israel have arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the burning of a mosque, according to Israeli National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
The suspect appeared before the Kfar Saba Magistrate Court on Thursday, Rosenfeld said.
Israeli media sources said he is a Jewish yeshiva student from the northern West Bank.
He was arrested "on suspicion of being involved in arson on the mosque in Tuba," Rosenfeld said. "He was arrested during the early hours of the morning soon after the incident. He was being questioned by the police and the General Security Services."
The mosque in the village of Tuba-Zangariyye, in northern Israel, was set on fire during the early hours Monday, according to police. Graffiti was left on its walls.
The U.S. State Department condemned the incident, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said "the pictures are shocking and have no place in Israel," according to a statement from his office.
The mosque's imam, Sheikh Fuad Shehade, said he arrived to find the building burned, with charred copies of the Koran inside.
Words written on the mosque's walls said "price tag," "revenge" and "Palmer."
Asher Palmer and his year-old son were killed 10 days ago when rocks thrown at their car near the city of Hebron caused it to turn over and crash, authorities said.
"Price tag" is a term frequently used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal attacks against Palestinians in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts.
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But, lately "price tag" attacks have also targeted Israeli military forces and police stationed in the West Bank. It is rare for such attacks to be carried out inside Israel.
After the mosque was burned, around 200 residents from Tuba-Zangariyye gathered on the outskirts and started marching toward the neighboring Israeli town of Rosh Pina, an Israeli police spokesman said.
Residents blocked the road, hurled rocks at police and burned tires, police said. Police responded by firing tear gas.
On Wednesday, Jewish worshipers arrived at a holy site in the northern West Bank city of Nablus to find swastikas and graffiti sprayed on the walls. It is unclear when the graffiti was left there. The site, called Joseph's Tomb, is under Palestinian Authority rule and Jewish worshipers visit every couple of months to pray.