Netanyahu condemns 'outrageous' mosque attack

By Jennifer Lipman, October 3, 2011

The Israeli Prime Minister has issued a severe condemnation of the people behind an arson attack on a mosque near the northern Israeli town of Safed.

Vandals set fire to the building in the Tuba-Zangria village early this morning, damaging copies of the Koran and scrawling graffiti on the walls.

In protest, 200 residents of the village blocked a main road nearby and threw stones at police officers.

The arson attack is understood to be another "price tag" hit carried out by extremist settler groups.

Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered intelligence agency Shin Bet to find those behind it. He said he was outraged and added: "The act went against the state of Israel's values. Freedom of religion and freedom to worship are supreme values."

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said: "Burning mosques contradicts Israel's values as a Jewish state. Such serious incidents obligate us to conduct a national self-examination."

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, condemned the "intentionally provocative attack on a place of worship," he said. "I note that Prime Minister Netanyahu has also condemned this senseless act of violence.

"I welcome the stated determination of the Israeli authorities to pursue the criminals responsible and to bring them to justice."

Last updated: 4:41pm, October 3 2011