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November 06, 2010

Israeli Police Demolish Bedouin Mosque Rahat

by Diaa Bekheet

Tensions are rising between Israeli Jews and Arabs after the demolition of a Muslim house of worship.  

Hundreds of Israeli Arabs clashed with police who arrived in the southern town of Rahat to demolish a mosque that was built illegally.  The protesters threw stones, and riot police responded with tear gas to disperse the crowd.  There were no injuries.

One Arab resident compared the State of Israel to the Nazis.

He told Israel Radio that what the Nazis did to the Jews, Israel is doing to the Arabs. "There is no difference between Israel's behavior and Hitler's," he said.

Statements like that touch a raw nerve among Jewish Israelis because six-million Jews died in the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.

Israeli Arabs make up about 20 percent of the population, but this resident said he no longer feels like a citizen of the State of Israel.

"They did not break down a mosque," he said.  "They broke the hearts of all Muslims."

Shlomo Tseazer, an Israel Land Administration official, said the demolition was carried out according to a court order.  

He told Israel Radio that police were simply enforcing the law against a mosque that was constructed illegally on public property.  He said the same law applies to mosques and synagogues alike.

But Israeli Arabs do not believe that.  They say the demolition is another act of discrimination by the Jewish state against the Arab minority.