Inside torched Ramle synagogue
Inside torched Ramle synagogue Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Jewish congregants in Harish, located in the Lower Galilee and near the Arab city of Umm el-Fahm east of Hadera, arrived at synagogue on Saturday morning to find firefighters trying to put out a blaze that had erupted inside their house of worship.

By the time the fire was subdued a Torah scroll, a pair of tefillin [phylacteries], the library of holy books, and seating inside had been ravaged by the flames.

Fire officials declared the synagogue sealed to the public and fire investigators began searching the building for clues as to what caused the fire to start.

Worshippers now suspect arson since no Shabbat candles were lit inside and fire investigators did not discover an electrical fault.

A month ago Arabs set fire to the second floor of a building in Old Ramleh, near Lod, where religious supplies are kept.

At the time Israeli police officials blamed the fire on an electrical short, but congregants pointed to bars on the windows of the room where the fire started being cut saying police did not want to admit it was arson.

Two weeks ago vandals broke into the synagogue in Emek Lod in Judea. Congregants were shocked to find the ark desecrated and the Torah scrolls thrown in the mud and trampled upon.

In that incident, burglars removed the silver plate from the Sephardic case for the Torah scrolls, stole the decorative pomegranates made of pure silver, and robbed the charity fund.