[h=1]Mosque Is Torched in Israel[/h][h=2]Riot Follows Amid Fears Jewish Extremists Will Spark Palestinian Uprising[/h] [h=3]By JOSHUA MITNICK[/h]TEL AVIVThe burning and defacement of a mosque in northern Israel early Monday sparked a riot and heightened Israeli concerns that Jewish extremists could stoke Palestinian outrage and ignite a new uprising. The fire destroyed parts of the interior and left prayer books charred at the mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangariya. Vandals scrawled "price tag" in Hebrew on a wall outside the mosque, referring to a campaign of retribution by fundamentalist Israeli youths against Palestinians in the West Bank. The graffiti also said "revenge" and gave the surname of two Israeli Jews who were killed in the West Bank in what Israeli security authorities have called a terrorist attack by Palestinians. On Monday morning, at least 200 villagers, responding to the attack, threw rocks, burned tires and blocked a highway before police forces used tear gas to push them back from the road, according to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesIsraeli policemen stood in a mosque in the northern Israel Bedouin village of Tuba Zangariya after an arson attack there early Monday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres condemned the attack and suggested they believe the perpetrators are Jewish. In a sign of the level of government concern, Mr. Peres visited the burned-out mosque with Israel's chief rabbis on Monday. "I am filled with shame for this hateful act," he said. "This evil act is not only against the law, it is against Judaism, morality and spirit." Mr. Rosenfeld said police haven't determined who was behind the incident. Israeli security officials have worried that "price-tag" attacks could spark mass demonstrations inspired by recent popular uprisings across the Arab world. Palestinian leaders have called for rallies in West Bank cities in support of their statehood bid at the United Nations. The rallies have drawn several thousand demonstrators, who have for the most part followed official Palestinian instructions not to clash with Israeli forces. In recent years, Jewish extremists have vandalized Palestinian villages as retaliation for terrorist attacks on Israeli targets or for government demolition of unauthorized construction in the West Bank. The price-tag attacks, which until Monday had been confined to the West Bank, have included several mosque burnings, attacks on Palestinian villagers, and the torching of agricultural fields. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority was unavailable for comment on the fire and the authority's official website didn't specifically condemn the mosque torching. In recent weeks, the authority's government media center has released several statements accusing Israel's government of tolerating incitement against Palestinians by radical rabbis. In recent years, several Orthodox Jewish religious figures who receive government support have published increasingly incendiary writings, such as a book that examined when it is permissible to kill gentiles and a religious ruling discouraging the rental or sale of real estate to non Jews. Associated PressResidents inspect damage caused by the arson attack, setting off protests by villagers who later clashed with police. The clash with police on Monday was a reminder of the potential for conflict with Israel's Arab minority. Some 13 Israeli Arabs and one Israeli Jew died in violent clashes with police during solidarity demonstrations at the time of the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000. Many of the youths believed to be behind the price-tag attacks reside in unauthorized settler outposts and are loyal to radical rabbis who preach that the Israeli government and army don't have the authority to make concessions to Palestinians. In the weeks leading up to the U.N. statehood bid, the army served activists with emergency orders temporarily banning them from flashpoints in the West Bank. Mr. Rosenfeld said the police have set up a special task force dedicated to collecting intelligence and investigating attacks against Palestinians. "There is a lot of tension in the air on both sides. It's a kind of situation in which you don't know what will be the match that will light the fire," said Hagit Ofran, a spokeswoman for Peace Now, an organization which opposes the settlements. In an effort to restart peace negotiations and avoid a vote on Palestinian membership at the U.N., U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta engaged in a round of shuttle diplomacy on Monday. Traveling from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Jerusalem, Mr. Panetta pressed his case for direct talks with Mr. Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinians have balked at an invitation by U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the U.N. to restart talks. Israel has accepted it while expressing reservations.