Prayer books, Torah scrolls destroyed in suspected Palestinian arson attack

(JTA) – Palestinian arsonists are suspected of burning Jewish prayer books and Torah scrolls in a West Bank outpost’s synagogue, police said.

The attack occurred Friday in Givat Sorek, in the Etzion bloc, established on a hill overlooking the site where three Jewish teens were kidnapped from a bus stop and murdered in the summer of 2014. The synagogue was named for the three teens: Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach.

A trail of evidence led to a nearby Palestinian village, West Bank police determined, according to reports. Police later confirmed the attack was arson.

The books and Torahs were placed in a pile in the tent that serves as the synagogue and centre for youth activities and set alight.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the start of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, called for widespread condemnation of the attack.

“I expect from everyone in the country and around the world who rightly condemn every desecration of a mosque or writing of graffiti on mosques, including the burning of mosques, I expect them to come out with the same cry against, and condemnation of, this abhorrent act,” Netanyahu said.

“We are in a harsh struggle between those who – like us – seek coexistence and peace, and those who seek war and bloodshed.”

Sheik Mohammed Kaiyuan Abu Ali, the chairman of the council of Muslim religious leaders in Israel, condemned the attack in a conversation Sunday with Israel’s chief Ashkenazic rabbi, David Lau, Israel National News reported.

The news website quoted the sheik as saying, “In my name, and on behalf of all imams, we condemn this act and hope another disaster like this doesn’t happen again in any holy place.”

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