RamleCC/Gila Brand

Arab terrorism targeting Jews in Ramle is on the rise, but local residents say police are afraid to confront local Arabs and deal with the problem.

Shortly after the car of a local religious school principal was torched on Thursday there was also a fire a nearby synagogue in the heart of the al-Grebe neighborhood in Ramle. 

The synagogue is located in a private house in the alley next to Jabotinsky Street, one of the main streets the city. It is headed by Rabbi Shelly Rafael, who is responsible for much of the Jewish outreach in Ramle.

"The synagogue in al-Grebe was torched just dozens of meters away from where the vehicle was torched," Eli C., a member of Sheli's congregation, told the Hebrew-language Hakol HaYehudi

"The synagogue sits in the center of an Arab enclave and many Arabs have harrassed him for a long time," he said. "Tonight, at about two, they torched the building. The second floor was badly damaged, the synagogue's holy books and religious were burned."

The congregant, a long-term member of Ramle's religious community, charged Israel's police do not want to deal with the problem and are trying to cover it up.

"Yesterday they tried to claim the vehicle of the principal was not torched, but had a short circuit," Eli said. "But two fires right in a row? Both were shorts?"

The fires are not the first the Jewish community has experienced in the past year, which Eli says have been swept under the rug.

"In general, they are trying to obfuscate the fact that there is terrorism against the Jews in the city, targeting core members of the religious community," Eli asserted. "The police do not dare to fight this terrorism out of fear they won't be seen as politically correct - instead they accuse the victims of inciting their attackers."

"It's fun work," Eli said, deriding the lack of police action. "The police are like volunteer organization committed to avoid doing too much work - so do not fear them."

"We're just getting stronger, bringing more and more nuclear families, to strengthen Jewish identity in the city. That this happened the night before Hannukah is symbolic - we will continue to add light."

Police Superintendent Leah Zohar told reporters, "There is no arson. The fire was due to a short circuit. The fire investigator is reviewing the incident."

"There is a window with its iron bars cut," Eli said when told of Zohar's statement. "Is that also a short? All the previous fires were shorts?"

Eli's accusation comes at a time where Israel's senior security officials have joined the hue-and-cry of left-wing politicians and media figures over the alleged arson of a Ramallah mosque by activists they describe as "right wing."

A previous arson incident at a Mosque in Tuba Zangariya resulted in numerous right-wing activists being arrested by police, but no charges being filed due to lack of evidence.

Civil liberties observers in Israel say the high profile responses of Israel's Police to Mosque arsons contrasted with the lack of action when synagogues are torched implies a disturbing trend towards politicization and discrimination.