Israeli Leaders Condemn Mosque Attack

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Israeli leaders are denouncing what appears to be a Jewish attack on a West Bank mosque.

Vandals torched the mosque Friday, burning books and prayer rugs. The incident could further raise already high tensions in the area.

Rabbi Alludes to Holocaust

On a rare visit to the northern West Bank, Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger visited the mosque and condemned the attack, which many believe was carried out by Jewish settlers.

"Seventy-one years ago, the Nazis burned hundreds of synagogues and it was the opening of the Holocaust, and we are until today with the same feeling about the trauma that the Jewish nation has," Metzger said.

"Therefore, I came to say to our neighbors, the Muslims, that we are against burning any, any holy place that people are praying inside," he said.

Anger over the government's decision to freeze all building in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) for 10 months is speculated to be the motive for Friday's attack.

The mosque burning was just one incident that has stoked tension in recent days.

Palestinian Leaders: No Peace Talks

Meanwhile, some Palestinian leaders have encouraged violence to support President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to reject peace talks with Israel.

In the past week, security forces have caught several Palestinians trying to smuggle knives or explosives through checkpoints. Before the rabbi's visit, Arab youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian leaders want Israeli security to crack down on settlers, increasing the urgency for the Netanyahu government to solve the mosque burning case.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-orthodox Shas party also condemned the attack.

"This has never happened," he said. "The Jewish people never acted this way, and we must do everything to find the perpetrators."

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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.