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Mosque attacks: On the rise since 2009, but no indictments

The burning of the Tuba mosque in the Galilee should not come as a surprise to anyone. The criminal and terror acts of burning mosques and desecrating Muslim sites have become an accepted norm under Israel’s rule. There is no fear from committing such attacks, since law enforcement officials have done nothing to prosecute the perpetrators.

Some quick research I did found that attacks on Muslim sites have peaked since 2009.  Since then, there have been numerous attempts and successful attacks on mosques and Muslim cemeteries. On September 5,  a mosque in Qasra, a village south of Nablus was burnt. Earlier in April, a mosque in Huwara, also outside Nablus was burnt . In June, A mosque in el-Mughayer, a village outside Ramallah, was torched. Other mosques were burnt in the south as well.  Beit Fajjar mosque, outside Bethlehem was also torched and holy books were desecrated and burnt. No one was indicted for any of these attacks.

The attack on the Tuba mosque in the Galilee caught a lot of attention because it is the first mosque to be torched inside Israel. However, a similar attempt was carried out in 2009, when an attempt to burn a mosque in Tiberias was not successful. The police dismissed the attack because the tire used failed to catch on fire. No one was arrested.

In 2009 and 2010 here were many successful mosque attacks within the West Bank. In 2009 radical settlers torched a major mosque in Yasof village. In May 2010, a mosque outside Huwara was burnt and a graffiti of the Star of David was left on the wall of the mosque. Another mosque was set on fire in Luban al-Sharqiya, a Palestinian village south of Nablus.

Israeli leaders have condemned the attacks publicly, but failed to do anything to stop them. The Israeli military and police don’t priorities protecting Palestinians from radical settler attacks. The attacks on Palestinian villages and holy sites have been increasing without any consequences to the assailants.

The Palestinian Authority is not allowed to protect the Palestinian villages outside the major cities in the West Bank. International law holds Israel responsible for the protection of the Palestinian population and the holy sites under its rule.  Even under occupation, Israel is obligated to protect the civilians and the holy sites. However, when radical settlers attack Palestinian villages, the Israeli security is only concerned with settlers safety.

Muslims can’t help but wonder: how long would it have taken Israel to catch the perpetrators if they were Palestinians burning a synagogue? Israel’s security service is known worldwide for its “efficiency.”  But it is inexperienced and inefficient when it comes to crimes committed by settlers against Palestinians.

However, the problem is not Israel’s security efficiency but rather its priorities. The protection of Palestinians or non-Jewish holy sites is not a priority for Israel’s security services.  This is proven by the inaction of the law enforcement when attacks are carried out by Jews against Palestinians.

The attack on the mosque in Galilee proves that radicals have no fear of committing violence. They have no reason to show restraint. The police has done nothing to stop them before and is unlikely to take this incident any more seriously.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government shouldn’t continue to ignore these attacks. Israel cannot keep claiming to be a democracy and protector of minorities when mosque burning becomes regular news. Even those who are adamant supportsof Israel are concerned. The Anti Defamation League, which rarely criticizes Israel, found it important to condemn the attack. The mosque burning in Galilee is likely to quicken the deterioration in the relationship between the state and the Palestinian minority. It will increase Palestinian suspicion of the state and will lower  cooperation.

The price for a blind eye to the growth of radicalism is high. Radicals who attack Palestinians and Muslim sites will feel bold enough to attack anyone else who might stand in their way. Recently, the Shin Bet reported a growing threat of settler attacks on Israeli officials. Extremism has no limits, and extremists will justify any violent actions to get what they want. Israeli police might not care for the Palestinian community or for mosque burning, but in the process, Israel is creating a monster too wild to tame.

It is time for the Israeli government and police to repent from their indifference. Extremism should not be tolerated and given a free hand. The tolerance of terrorism is an act of murder to the dream of a moral and civilized country.

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    1. Ben Israel

      I am amazed at the lack of arrests in these cases which have been going on for some time. However, it is vital to remember certain things. I do NOT accept that the SHABAK doesn’t care about these attacks. All appointments to the top positions of the arms of coercion of the state (police, IDF, SHABAK) have to be vetted by the Left in Israel…i.e. someone whom MERETZ and the Labor Party don’t want in the position will not be appointed, even if the Likud is in power and making the appointments. A good example is the recent appointment of the Chief of Staff of the IDF. Netanyahu and the political Right wanted Galant, the Left wanted Gans, so the old “rule of law” mafia said “Get something on Galant” and they did (the problem with his house) and so he was ousted. Now, it is important to remember that Gans once said something to the effect that the settlers were Israel’s worst enemy. So we see MERETZ got who they want in the position. Thus, the head of the IDF would be highly motivated to stop these “price tag” attacks, especially considering that his soldier might have to bear the brunt of a violent Arab reaction.
      Same with the SHABAK. Although I didn’t hear about the considerations that were made in choosing the current head of the SHABAK, I am certain that MERETZ and others on the far Left vetted him, and approved his selection, otherwise they would have screamed and dug up something on him.
      Since the Goldstein incident in Hevron in 1994, the SHABAK has made MAJOR efforts to infiltrate extremist groups among the settlers. It isn’t hard to do. Numerous extremist settlers are harrassed by the SHABAK, had their houses destroyed, have had administrative edicts placed on them preventing them from even entering the West Bank or were even placed under long periods of administrative detention. Many of the Rabbis in the settlements are loyal “statists” and consider cooperation with the state authorities to be a religious commandment so there are plenty of people who have an ear open to what is going on and would report things if they knew something.
      Thus, it would seem puzzling on the surface why no arrests have been made, but there is another side to all of this. There are people on the Left/progressive world who would WELCOME actions of this type, feeling it would provoke some sort of Arab reaction which could then be used politically to tar the entire settlement movement. After all, we see postings here all the time attempting to show how terrible the settlers are and how they must be eradicated. If there was no settler violence, what propaganda would be as effective in promoting the ‘progressive’ cause?
      Rabin and Peres, in order to promote the unpopular Oslo Agreements reached this conclusion and decided to operate a SHABAK agent provocateur precisely to create an atmosphere of “settler violence”, thinking this would turn public opinion against the Settlers and the anti-Oslo Right. This was not some sort of “rogue” operation…the Prime Minister has direct oversight of the SHABAK and a Knesset committe also has this power, so there is no way the political Left doesn’t know what is going on regarding investigation of these attacks. The provocateurs actions were in the news all the time..he openly took credit for them. This was nothing new. There is an old Israeli tradition of this sort of thing.
      As far back as 1933, the Israeli Left used the murder of MAPAI leader Chaim Arlosoroff to further their political ends. Although he was apparently murdered by Arabs, some members of the political Right were falsely accused of the crime (they were later cleared by a court). The MAPAI whipped up a public frenzy of hysteria against the supposedly “violent Right” and in elections to the Zionist Congress held shortly afterwards the MAPAI and the Left leveraged this to win in spite of the fact that the right-wing Revisionists had been expected to take control prior to this incident. Thus, we see that the perception of “right-wing” violence ends up helping the Left politically, as indeed those here at 972 who are posting these pieces are hoping.
      Rabin and Peres were also hoping for the same thing from the provocateur they were operating and it did have some effect. After Rabin’s murder this all came out, some of it by journalist Amnon Abramovitch revealing the provocateur’s identity, and later in the official Shamgar Commission report on Rabin’s murder (this section was originally kept SECRET because of it was politically embarrassing but it was later released to the public). This provocateur went so far as to physically assualt HADASH Knesset Member Tamar Guzhansky (sp?). People were astonished at the time that the provocateur-assailant was not prosecuted. He appeared on television making racist attacks on the Arabs and threats against Left-wing politicians, but, like today, strangely nothing was done against him.
      Even today, we see Leftist hoping for right-wing violence. One well-know Israeli Left-wing blogger wrote a piece after the massacre in Norway that he was thrilled and even called it a “Gdsend” because he (wrongly) thought the Israeli Right would be blamed for it because the perpetrator mentioned Avigdor Lieberman in his rantings.
      One of the commentors here at 972 recently said he or she was “hoping that a Leftist demonstrator outside one of the settlements would be killed” because that would stir things up (I will not mention his or her name because they later regretted the comment and retracted it). So we see that such a mentality exists and it has been used at the highest levels of the security establishment for political gain. Is the same thing happening with these ‘price tag’ attacks?

      Reply to Comment
    2. susan

      During the Jenin massacre in 2002, soldiers had camped out in the mosque there. I walked through the aftermath of their stay. They had defecated and urinated all over the place and had used pages from the Koran to wipe themselves. A children’s mural, which had pictures of little girls and boys playing, was defaced as soldiers gouged out the walls where eyes of the children had been. They painted racial slurs on the walls and drew stars of david everwhere.
      of course, no one was punished for that. they weren’t even punished for bulldozing people’s homes with residents still inside.

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    3. Deïr Yassin

      As soon as I read that Ben Israel “don’t accept the lack of arrest and of interest”, I KNEW, I simply knew, that he was going to blame it on the Left.
      The guy must be a machine spewing fascist Hasbara from the basement in some hilltop settlement.
      He calls the massacre by Baruch Goldstein in Hebron/al-khalil of 29 Muslims in prayer for an ‘incident’. Wow, his right-wing buddy Jean-Marie Le Pen called the Holocaust ‘a detail in history’ !
      It really would be great if Ben Israel had some links to provide instead of just transcibing the strange voices that he hears in his (empty ?) brain.
      As far as the Arlosoroff-killing is concerned, he writes “he was apparently murdered by Arabs”. Well, the committee led by Judge David Bashor didn’t say anything about that. These are rumours just as mush as righ-wingers being behind the killing, but if Ben Israel has further informations about ‘these Arabs’, I’m sure the judicial system would like to know.

      @ Susan
      If you’re the Susan, I think you are, I LOVED your book, waiting for the film. Thanks for representing the Palestinians so articulately, and for taking Dersho down so convincingly 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      After the fall of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalam in 1948 the Arabs blew up the biggest synagogue, destroyed or desecrated all 57 or so other synagogues. The Arabs desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, using gravestones as latrines. They also destroyed or desecrated numerous synagogues in Hevron. More recently, the Arabs repeatedly attacked and desecrated the synagogue of Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) and, of course, there was the desecration and destruction of the numerous synagogue and yeshivot in Gush Katif in 2005 which was broadcast on television around the world. Shall I go on?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ben Israel, your argument is circular. The Tel Aviv Hilton hotel is built on a Muslim cemetery. The Jews in Hebron make the lives of Palestinians a hell. The synagogues in Gush Katif were stripped to their bones before the settlers left, so they were no longer houses of worship. I witnessed this myself.

      The destruction of the Hurva synagogue is lamentable, but it happened 63 years ago, during a time of war.

      The point is that we are talking about mosques which are currently in use. Israel is responsible for security in the areas under its control and it has failed to investigate these crimes. Are you defending the burning of mosques?

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    6. Ben Israel

      I want the perpetrators of these acts arrested more than you do because they damage the cause I believe in, which is the strengthening of the settlements in Judea/Samaria, regardless of whatever political settlement may or may not be attained in the future.
      What I continually protest here at 972 is the implication that Israelis and Jews are UNIQUELY evil and that the Arabs are innocent little lambs who are simply victims. So what if Gush Katif was already abandoned, the people who destroyed them were barbarians, plain and simple. I should point out that synagogues are desecrated by Arabs here and now, all the time. It is not reported in the media. So it is wrong to claim that Jews and Israelis are the principle culprits in this sort of activity.

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    7. Ben Israel, your perception that +972 paints Israelis and/or Jews as uniquely evil is so absurd that I cannot even bring myself to challenge it.

      People commit evil acts. I believe the settlements in the West Bank are an evil enterprise. So do many of my colleagues. But there is no such thing as unique evil. Just evil.

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    8. If you insist on relativizing evil then Israel will ultimately crow if just a hair’s better than whomever. In fact, if you pick, say, Stalin, for comparison, you can go a long further down.
      It’s silly. What happened in 48 is completely irrelevant to the reports in this piece. But by evoking such we seem to forget why our host posted. Why do you do this, Ben Israel? Why can’t you say “these events are wrong and must be stopped. My State, Israel, must take responsibility if it monopolizes the police function for Israeli citizens”? Would such a statement endanger the very existence of Israel? Is you land that weak?
      Enforce your Declaration of Independence. Believe in words again.

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    9. Sylvia

      How can someone foreign to a homogenous Arab/Palestinian village getin/drive in, enter the mosque, vandalize it, write his graffiti, without being seen by the locals? How did they know in advance that no one was inside?
      This is what boggles my mind. Maybe those familiar with Palestinian towns/villages can enlighten me. Is access that easy?
      What is more baffling about the last incident is that this is a Bedouin village where enlistment to the army is relatively high. Why would a Jew want to antagonize people who are theifr comrades in the army?
      I have only questions. I really admire Aziz for havingall the answers.

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    10. Deïr Yassin

      I’m sure Sylvia asked the same questions and had the same skepticism when the Fogel-family, living behind barricades, with camera-supervision and guards, were killed by outsiders ….

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    11. Sylvia

      Deir Yassin
      What about addressing the question? Surely as someone who knows the make-up and the history of each and every village, you are uniquely positioned to answer my question.
      Is it feasible for someone foreign to enter the village without being seen? are there Jews living there? Or not? And of all the Arab villages of the Galilee, not to mention the cities, why pick that one where many of its members go to the army? aren’t these questions legitimate? If not, why not?

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    12. Philos

      Sylvia, DY was pointing out that if it’s possible for two Arab’s to enter a Jewish settlement and murder a family it is equally possible that two or more Jews can enter an Arab town and set fire to their mosque. Both attacks happened at night and as any good tactician knows that’s the best time to launch an attack. And unlike settlements Arab villages in Israel proper don’t have gates, barb wire and patrols on their boundaries so sneaking in shouldn’t be a problem.

      Why would they attack Bedouin who serve in the army? Because of their visceral hatred of Arabs and Muslims. They hate. They don’t want Arab’s in the army. It’s time you and Ben Israel came to terms with the fact that your constant incitement, your constant dehumanization of the Palestinians and your denial of their national connection to the land will lead to psychopaths taking your logic to the next logical step: violence.

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    13. Philos

      Sylvia if you want to read about how quickly incitement and speech lead to increasingly murderous levels of violence then read Hannah Ardent “The Origins of Totalitarianism”

      In fact the greatest tragedy of Israeli education is that no one is this country knows a damn thing about the Holocaust apart from how to systematically murder a people. The meaning of it is lost. And that goes for Palestinians just as much as Israeli Jews…. Read this essay. I hope it will enlighten

      Reply to Comment
    14. @Sylvia
      It was the police, Shin Bet, Israel’s president, Israel Prime Minister…etc that claimed that it was settlers/Jewish residents that did these actions. Even people within the settlement movement have recognized that these actions are done by settlers and tried to distance themselves from it (including some from Yesha council). So, I am not sure if you consider the police and the Shin Bet unreliable source of information on this issue.

      As for why? I would recommend you look into the price tag issue. By the way, They also attacked an IDF base last month and a settler was arrested few days later. It was also a price tag.

      Why they haven’t been seen. Because people don’t have guards on 2am by the mosque. Maybe they should since the police is unable to protect them. However your question is similar to another argument. It is like asking how could a thief come into your house and steal things even though your neighbor could have heard them or seen them. It doesn’t really make much sense as an argument.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Deïr Yassin

      OFF-TOPIC (and maybe not)
      I would like to share this with people here.
      Taha Muhammad Ali, the Palestinian poet, died on Sunday at the age of 80. He was born in Saffuriyya in 1931 and died in Nazareth.
      I hope people would listen to this magnificent poem of his:
      Taha Muhammad Ali in Arabic from min 1:20
      In English (extraordinary recital) from 4:00

      Reply to Comment
    16. @Deïr Yassin
      I love Taha Muhammad’s poetry and was very sad to hear of his departure. If I have time this week, I will write about his work and life and I intended to post the same video you posted 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    17. Philos

      I think the poem is very relevant. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    18. Sylvia

      Thanks, Aziz.
      I know Barak suspects a jewish arsonist, because I’ve heard him say as much on radio.
      I would give it a 70 percent probability that a Jew did it, but still I will wait until the results of the investigation are in before I report it as a fact.

      Reply to Comment