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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Questions about the mosque arson at Tuba Zangaria

Israeli blog "Brilliant Disguise" has an intriguing article about the burning of the mosque in Tuba Zangaria in October.

The author, Gal Chen, is not a settler or even a rightist. She is against the settlements. But when this "price tag" attack was reported in October, a number of things bothered her - so she started researching it.

The first thing she noticed is that the village has a history of violence, corruption, intra-clan feuds and smuggling. Two years ago the office of the Jewish head of the town council appointed by Israel's Interior Ministry was hit with a hail of bullets.

Chen went to Tuba Zangaria to see it for herself.

It is not an easy village to travel to, especially for any settlers. It is really two villages - Tuba on the bottom of the mountain and Zangaria on top. The only way to get to Zangaria is to go through Tuba.

The village itself is in the Galilee, not very close to Judea and Samaria.

In Tuba itself, the mosque is easily visible and accessible - but it was untouched. The arsonists apparently spent the extra ten minutes to go up the mountain to find a  much less prominent mosque to burn.

There are houses surrounding the mosque. Chen wondered how outsiders could have made it to this inaccessible mosque in a small village without residents noticing, as well as how no one smelled the smoke or heard the fire before it became so large.

Here is the graffiti that seemed to prove this was a "price tag" attack:


The words say "[Price] tag" "Palmer" "Revenge", referring to the murder of Asher Palmer and his son in September.

But Chen noticed that the words were not written with spray paint, as is usual with this sort of vandalism - but with charred wood from the fire itself. She wonders how the arsonists could have forgotten a can of spray paint.

Not only that, but the diagonal pattern of the graffiti indicates that it was written after the fire had already blackened the wall.

Chen asked the villagers how anyone could have driven to the village without being noticed. They admitted that they are vigilant to see strange vehicles, especially at night, and conjectured that the arsonists walked there from the fields.

Which would mean that they decided to carry gallons of gasoline up a mountain, filled with thorns and stones, to get to an inaccessible mosque, in a crime-ridden Galilee village, surrounded by houses, miles from Judea and Samaria. Residents who live next door did not notice the fire until about half of the mosque was burned and destroyed, and yet the criminals managed to wait there long enough for the fire to cool down so they could write "Price tag/Palmer/Revenge" afterwards.

A few days later, village youths set fire to the local council building - led by a retired IDF general - and he fled, fearing for his life.

Chen ends her post without any accusations, but wondering about how the Israeli media at the scene jumped to conclusions without asking any of these questions.


(h/t Ruchie)

(correction - I had initially assumed Chen was male.)