President Shimon Peres on Monday condemned an arson attack on a mosque in the Upper Galilee village of Tuba the night before, branding it an immoral and illegal act that contradicts Jewish values and is a source of shame for the State of Israel.
This is a difficult day for the entire Israeli society, not only the Arab sector, Peres said.
The president noted the importance of the time in which the attack took place, the Ten Days of Atonement between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
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"This is a time for reflection, in which we should condemn such acts among us," Peres said. "Acts that sabotage our relationship between us and our neighbors and between the different religions living in Israel.
Peres warned that Israel would not allow extremists and lawbreakers to undermine the need to live together and with mutual respect.
I am convinced that the police and security forces will apprehend the criminals and bring them to justice, but it is up to all of us to uphold the law and stand against those who break it, Peres said.
The mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba-Zangariyya was set on fire in a suspected "price tag" attack by settlers angry at Israeli policy. The entire interior of the mosque went up in flames, causing heavy damage, and holy books inside the mosque were burned. Graffiti with the words price tag was found on the wall of the mosque.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed outrage over the arson, instructing the head of the Shin Bet security service to quickly locate those responsible, his office said in a statement.
"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 statement said. "The pictures are horrifying and have no place in Israel," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.