”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.”

Internal Affairs Committee strongly condemns torching of holy sites, calls to prevent incitement by ”those who want to start a religious war”

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.”