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Youths Clash With Police Over Mosque Arson

Several dozen youths clashed with police overnight in a Bedouin village in northern Israel, hours after a local mosque was vandalized allegedly by Jewish extremists, officials said Tuesday.

The Bedouin protesters blocked roads with rocks, set fire to tires and threw stones at the police. Angry youth also torched the local council building, the local community center and a health clinic.

Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the forces had dispersed the youths in Tuba-Zanghariyya, north of the Sea of Galilee, but police remained on high alert in the northern part of the country. Protesters in the village have taken to the streets since Monday morning, when the damage to the mosque was discovered.

Police are concerned that Israeli Arabs will carry out revenge attacks in the wake of the arson, and also fear acts by Jewish extremists will spark further agitation and violence during the upcoming holidays, particularly in cities with mixed Jewish-Arab populations.

The mosque in the village of Tuba-Zanghariyya, a Bedouin town of some 5,500 people two kilometers east of Rosh Pina, was attacked at about 2:30 A.M. on Monday morning. The mosque’s interior was seriously damaged, and many holy books were destroyed by the blaze.

Police suspect that extreme right-wing Jews carried out the arson as a “price tag” operation, referring to vandalism and revenge actions initiated by activists, usually against Palestinians, following terror attacks or state demolitions in settlements or outposts.

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