Teenager arrested in West Bank mosque blaze

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 31, 2009 1:30 PM

Israeli police on Thursday briefly detained a teenager from a West Bank settlement in connection with the torching of a West Bank mosque earlier this month.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a minor was questioned in the attack, believed to have been the work of Jewish extremists in the West Bank. Israeli law prohibits publication of information that might lead to identification of minors suspected of crimes.

Rosenfeld said the youth was released after several hours of questioning. He would not say if the teen was still a suspect. He said the investigation is still in progress.

The attackers burned prayer carpets and a book stand with Muslim holy texts. They also left Hebrew graffiti on the floor. The arson sparked outcries from both Muslims and Jews. Israel's chief rabbi visited the damaged mosque to denounce the burning.

Rosenfeld said undercover agents arrested the teen at a West Bank junction. He said it was the first arrest since the Dec. 11 blaze.

The youth's lawyer, Yehuda Shoshan, told Army Radio, "The arrest apparently follows information that the Shin Bet security service received that the youth, my client, was connected directly or indirectly to the arson. I met with him immediately after his arrest, before he was interrogated. He denied any connection" to the attack.

Authorities suspect Jewish extremists carried out the attack in retaliation for a government-ordered slowdown in West Bank settlement construction.