A Jerusalem school was set ablaze last night by “extremists” who daubed walls with racist slogans against Arabs in a suspected arson attack.
The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, which has 624 Arab and Israeli students from East and West Jerusalem up to 12th grade, shows signs of having been intentionally set on fire as two classrooms were severely burned.
The source of the fire was found to have been in one of the two nursery classes, in the largest Arabic-Hebrew bilingual institution in the Israeli-run state, which had walls and books charred by flames.
Graffiti in Hebrew was found spray-painted on the walls, in the Pat neighbourhood of Jerusalem, with slogans such as “You can’t coexist with a cancer,” “[anti-Arab rabbi Meir] Kahane was right,” “Enough with assimilation” and “Death to Arabs,” according to Haaretz.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “We will not allow pyromaniacs and criminals who take the law into their own hands to disrupt our daily lives.”
“We will continue to denounce the extremists and do whatever it takes to restore the quiet to Jerusalem,” he added.
At a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack and pledged to act “forcefully” to return “the rule of law” across all parts of the city which has experienced intense disruption after both Arab and Israeli teenagers have been killed – with some described as alleged “acts of revenge”.
Students returned to the school today but this is not the first time it has been the target of hate crimes, although this is the first time an attack has happened indoors.
The school CEO Shuli Dichter said, as reported by the Jewish Press: “This is not the first time that our shared civic endeavor has been targeted. Even when they stain our school walls, they will not succeed in destroying our work.
“In addition to strong condemnations and expressions of support, we invite the Israeli public to join us in building civic cooperation among Jews and Arabs in Israel.”
Around 300 people rallied outside the school to show their support with banners in Arabic and Hebrew saying “Spread light instead of terror” and “No to hatred, no to racism, yes to coexistence, yes to partnership.”
The Balad party, who reject the idea of a solely Israeli country and support the idea of a bi-national state, fiercely condemned the attack as “an act of terror” and criticised the Israeli authorities over their alleged inaction to find the perpetrators.