Mosque Targeted in Hate Crime, Second in Two Weeks

'Close mosques, not yeshivas' sprayed on mosque in northern Israeli Arab town of Fureidis.

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Graffiti found on mosque in Fureidis: "Close mosques, not yeshivas" Credit: Haaretz

Vandals sprayed graffiti of a Star of David and the phrase "close mosques, not yeshivas" on a mosque in the northern Israeli Arab town of Fureidis overnight Monday. Tires of several cars parked in the area were also found slashed.

This is the second such incident in the area recently.

Police Major General and Coastal District Commander Haggai Dotan called the incident severe and said the police would make every effort to find the culprits.

Two weeks ago, graffiti was sprayed on a mosque in Umm al-Fahm and vandals tried to torch the entrance to the mosque. The incident stirred up tensions and a week ago, a protest was held at the entrance to the Israeli Arab city.

Demonstrators blocked access to the road for an hour and held signs that read: "Price tag - terror organization."

So-called "price tag" attacks are said to be carried out as revenge against the Israeli government's policies on West Bank settlements.

The first time a mosque was set on fire inside the Green Line took place in 2011, when a mosque in Tuba-Zangariyye in the Upper Galilee was set alight. However, similar hate crimes in churches and mosques have taken place throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem.

At the beginning of April, some 40 cars had their tires slashed and anti-Arab graffiti was sprayed on walls nearby, in Jish, near Safed. The graffiti sprayed was Only goys [non-Jews] will be driven out of our land.

President Shimon Peres condemned act of vandalism in Fureidis. Speaking with Fureidis Council head Youssef Meree, Peres said, "The 'Price Tag' and vandalism incidents in Fureidis are a crying shame and they cannot become a part of our daily routine." Meree told the president, "I promise you that we will stand up to these incidents and safeguard co-existence."

Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi (Raam-Ta'al) called the incident in Fureidis an "anti-Semitic crime" committed by "radical Jewish hooligans against mosques and churches" who are not concerned about getting caught due to the government's ineffectiveness.

Environment Protection Minister Amir Peretz said that "price tags have become a dangerous epidemic that must be stopped" and called on the police to use all means necessary to catch these "radical and racist" lawbreakers.

Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, head of the Tag Meir (Spreading the Light) organization, which is dedicated to opposing hate crimes, condemned Monday night's incident, calling the vandals "Jewish terrorists." He added that this was the 31st house of worship desecrated since 2009 in both Israel and the West Bank. "Tag Meir calls on the prime minister to instruct security forces to stop these Jewish terrorists and bring them to justice."

The police have also opened an investigation Monday into another hate crime in Tiberias, where the cross of a church and several benches were vandalized. The police also arrested a 40-year old male suspected of threatening Archbishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of Nazareth.