Netanyahu - AP - May 30, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by AP
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed fury Monday over the torching of a mosque in an Upper Galilee village the night before and instructed the Shin Bet chief to quickly locate those responsible.

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"The prime minister was furious when he saw the pictures, and said that the incident contradicts the values of the State of Israel – such as freedom of religion and freedom of worship," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. "The pictures are horrifying and have no place in Israel," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

The mosque arson, in the Israeli Arab village of Tuba-Zangariyya, is suspected to be a 'price tag' attack carried out by Jewish extremists angry over the government's policy with regard to West Bank settlements.

The entire interior of the mosque went up in flames, causing heavy damage, and oly books inside the mosque were burned. Graffiti with the words “price tag” was found on the wall of the mosque. Similar attacks have been carried out in West Bank mosques, but this was the first to occur in an Israeli Arab town.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said Monday that the act must be condemned. "Burning mosques contradicts Israel's values as a Jewish state," she said. "Such serious incidents obligate us to conduct a national self-examination."

Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am Ta'al) responded furiously to the attack, saying: “whoever did not stop this cancerous growth and burning of mosques in the occupied territories should not be surprised if this cancer spreads to the state of Israel as well.”

Tibi declared that the attack could not be considered part of the "price tag" policy, but should rather be looked at as the work of Jewish terrorists. He called for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice:  “We must maintain restrained fury on the one hand and on the other hand rebuild the mosque as quickly as possible.”

Meretz MK Zehava Galon also called for government action: “Steps must be taken against whoever is responsible for setting the mosque on fire," she said. "This is the result of the powerlessness of the enforcement authorities to take rabbis to task.”

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller, a resident of the settlement Ma'ale Michmash, also condemned the perpetrators of the attack: “Price tag activists are like terrorists,” he said, calling on police and security forces to penalize these “anarchic groups that are anti-Zionistic and undermine our right to this land.”