”The Internal Affairs Committee unequivocally condemns all arson attacks on holy sites and calls to try and prevent incitement by elements that want to start a religious war,” Deputy Committee Chairman Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas) said at the conclusion of Tuesday`s meeting on the torching of synagogues and holy books.
”The committee wants to know how we can secure structures that are located outside the communities` fences, even if these structures are still in the process of being approved,” Ben-Tzur said.
MK Sharren Haskel (Likud), who initiated the hearing, said ”there is a growing trend of burning synagogues and damaging holy sites. I am not an observant person, but when holy books were burned in Gush Etzion, and then Joseph`s Tomb was torched and bombs were hoarded on the Temple Mount, I felt that they have found a way to hurt us not only physically, but in terms of our identity as well.”
Archive photo: Source – eigenes Foto (Zeughaus), Author – Horsch, Willy
MK Amir Ohana (Likud) noted that the law defines the burning of a synagogue and holy books as a hate crime, and wondered whether this clause was mentioned in the indictments that were filed against the arsonists. ”It must be defined as a hate crime, and then the sentence is 10 years in prison. But how can we complain about arsonists when in this House [MK] Ahmad Tibi posts on Facebook a photo of a 19 year old who stabbed a 15 year old and was then, luckily, shot – with the caption `I was chased by settlers when the police executed me.`”
Representing the police, Superintendent Ze`ev Chakim told the committee that 20 cases have been opened in 2014-2015 relating to fires in Jewish and non-Jewish places of worship. ”Not all were arsons,” he said. ”One of the fires was caused by a memorial candle. We are not quick to determine that a fire was caused by an arsonist or arsonists unless there is evidence which supports this.”