“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that holdest her fast.” (Proverbs 3:17-18)
Arabs set fire to a number of holy Torah scrolls and a tent used for prayer and religious study in Givat Sorek, adjacent to the settlement of Karmei Tzur in Gush Etzion on Saturday night. The tent was less than 100 meters from the houses of the settlement and was also used as a gathering place for children, raising grave safety concerns. The tent overlooks the spot where the bodies of three youths murdered in 2014 were found.
The holy books were gathered together into tall piles before being set on fire. Police said footprints were discovered leading from the scene to the nearby Arab village of Halhul, but have yet to arrest any suspects.
David Perl, head of Gush Etzion Regional Council, was deeply disturbed by the aftermath.
“These pictures are shocking. I am certain that holocaust survivors who experienced Kristallnacht and then founded Gush Etzion, never dreamed that they would see such pictures of burned books here, under Israeli authority,” said Perl, adding, “The government of Israel must control the Arab violence, that is claiming the lives and holiness of Israelis.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement on Facebook:
בית הכנסת בגבעת שורק, הסמוך ליישוב כרמי צור, הוצת בערב שבת בידי פלסטינים. נמצה את הדין עם האחראים לפשע שנאה זה. אני מצפה מהקהילה הבינלאומית לגנות את חילול בית הכנסת שהוא תוצאה נוספת של ההסתה הפלסטינית הבלתי פוסקת. == Last night a synagogue in Givat Sorek, in Gush Etzion, was set on fire by Palestinians. We will prosecute the perpetrators of this crime. I expect the international community to condemn the desecration of a synagogue, an act that is the result of incessant Palestinian incitement.
Other government officials were equally disturbed by the incident. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said, “We cannot make peace with disgusting images such as these. The terrorists who carried out this attack wish to attack us as Jews. It does not matter to them where in Israel we live.”
The Head of the Jewish Home Party, Shui Mualem, told Arutz Sheva, “The burning of a synagogue with Jewish books and Torah scrolls inside is not unusual in villages that lie close to Arab towns. It happens across the entire country. The choir who preaches about each and every piece of graffiti that is anti Arab is again silent here. If a mosque were burnt they would not be so quiet.”