Sunday, November 30, 2014
Israel: Suspected Jewish extremists set fire to a classroom in an Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem, police said
The premises were empty when a fire was started in a classroom of the Hand in Hand school, where Palestinian and Israeli children study together in Hebrew and Arabic. "Death to Arabs" had been scrawled on a schoolyard wall. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the slogan pointed to "nationalist motives", a reference to suspected Jewish attackers. More than 600 pupils attend Hand in Hand, where its student population is divided equally between Jews and Arabs. There are four other such schools in the Hand to Hand network in Israel. Violence in Jerusalem and other areas of Israel and the Palestinian Territories has surged in the past few months. In July 2014, a Palestinian youth was burned to death by Jewish attackers, allegedly in revenge for the killing of three Israeli teens by Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank in June 2014. Attacks carried out by Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis, and 12 Palestinians have also been killed, including several of the assailants. At the school, Brian Callan, a father of one of the children whose class was burnt, accused the government of "encouraging, inciting and legitimizing this behavior through populist, racist legislation". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been criticized for promoting a new bill that would decree Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people only, a step that critics say will further alienate the country's Arab minority.