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.