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Tue 4 Oct 2011 12:39 PM

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Mosque fire in Israel blamed on radical Jews

Hardline Jewish settlers said to be behind arson, graffiti attack in Bedouin village

Mosque fire in Israel blamed on radical Jews
Israeli President Shimon Peres inspects a mosque set on fire by Jewish hardliners on Oct 3, 2011

A mosque in a Bedouin village in Israel was set on fire and
graffiti sprayed on its walls overnight on Monday, in an attack authorities
blamed on hardline Jewish settlers.

The fire consumed holy books and a carpet in the mosque in
the northern village of Tuba-Zangariya, while the Hebrew words
"Revenge", "Price Tag" and "Palmer" were daubed
at its entrance.

"Price Tag" is how hardline settlers describe
reprisals on Palestinians and their property. Asher Palmer, a West Bank
settler, and his infant son were killed in a Sept 23 car crash that police said
was caused by Palestinian stonethrowers.

"This is terror ... We must not consent to this term
'Price Tag'," Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said of the
mosque attack, telling Israel Radio that West Bank police and the Shin Bet
domestic intelligence agency were helping investigate the incident.

"In the end, we will get the perpetrators, both in
Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and here in Tuba," he said.

Tuba resident Jamal Zangariya blamed rabbis from the nearby
Jewish town of Safed for what he described as incitement against Arabs. The
mosque attack prompted scores of villagers to demonstrate at a nearby junction,
where they were dispersed by police.

Arabs, the vast majority of them Muslim, make up around 20
percent of the Jewish state's population. Many complain of discrimination and
sectarian relations have further frayed over Israel's crackdowns on the
Palestinians.

"It is unconscionable that a Jew would harm something
that is holy to another religion. This act is un-Jewish, illegal, immoral, and
brings upon us heavy shame," said Israeli President Shimon Peres, who paid
his respects at the mosque along with Israel's two chief rabbis.

For some settlers, the "Price Tag" slogan
signifies payback for any Israeli curbs on settlement in the West Bank, which
Israel captured in a 1967 war and where Palestinians hope to create an
independent state.

Two mosques were vandalised in the territory last month
following partial demolitions by the Israeli army in an unauthorised Jewish
settlement. Israeli authorities have served restraining orders against settler
suspects but none has been charged over "Price Tag" incidents.