Three Christmas trees were set on fire in the Arab Israeli city of Sakhnin in the north during the holidays in what appears to be a crime against the Christian Arab minority community in the region.
Each attack was a separate incident all of which occurred during Christmas week. The trees were set up outside churches in the city.
A member of local Greek Orthodox church told a reporter that he believes the suspects are local Muslims. Police are investigating.
Local Muslims, in an act of solidarity, helped to clean up the debris. Sakhnin is a Muslim-majority city with a Christian minority.
Apparently Arabic graffiti was sprayed outside one of the churches. “Except the Prophet Mohammed” is a phrase used by protesters in France demonstrating against cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet.
Haaretz daily newspaper reported that a Sakhnin resident insulted Mohammed on a video that made the rounds on social media, probably promoting the attacks. He later released a video apologizing in front of both a priest and imam.
Shady Khloul, head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Center, condemned the attack on his Facebook page and called on Arabs to demand the same justice of Muslim perpetrators that they would of Jewish attackers.
“We strongly condemn ISIS terrorism and Islamist sabotage against the Christian minority in Sakhnin for the second time in a week,” he wrote after the second of three attacks. “Who wants to live in a Palestinian state? Where are the Arab Knesset members, their voters and their supporters? Where are the unified Arab people? Where are the denunciations and demonstrations against these ISIS?”
Wadie Abunassar, a senior church official in the Holy Land is demanding that Israel treat the attack as an act of terrorism.
“It is mandatory to bring the terrorists to justice,” he said.