Firefighters (illustration)
Firefighters (illustration)Yossi Zamir/Flash 90

A joint police and fire department investigation team confirmed on Sunday that the fire that burnt down the tent housing a synagogue in Givat Sorek was indeed arson. 

The town is located on a strategic hill that overlooks the location where the three teenage boys, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel were kidnapped in 2014.  

Residents of the nearby town of Karmei Tzur claim that the arsonists piled up prayer books in the center of the room and lit them on fire. The resulting fire caused the entire structure to burn down.

Regional police have opened and investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arson. Footsteps that lead out of the structure have led investigators to the nearby Palestinian town of Halhul. 

Sheikh Mohammed Kaiyuan Abu Ali, the chairman of the council of Muslim religious leaders in Israel, spoke with Israel's Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi David Lau on Sunday after the arson. 

During their conversation, the Sheikh condemned the arson, particularly the burning of holy books, noting, "In my name, and on behalf of all imams, we condemn this act and hope another disaster like this doesn't happen again in any holy place." 

"We hope the perpetrators will be caught and that they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law," he added. 

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also responded to the attack, declaring, "The burning of the holy books that took place on Saturday near Karmei Tzur is the act of barbarians the likes of which we have never seen." 

Sadly, this is not the first time that this place has been burned. This is the outcome of incitement by those who hate anything that has even a Jewish smell to it, and by those who are responsible for the murderous climate in which we have been living recently." 

"I hope that our forces get their hands on the perpetrators quickly," Edelstein added, "and I call on the international community to condemn this heinous act without hesitation."