Vandals spray graffiti on northern Israel mosque

JERUSALEM (AP) — Vandals sprayed graffiti on a mosque in northern Israel in another attack blamed on a fringe group of Jewish extremists, Israeli police said Tuesday.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a Star of David was spray-painted on the walls of a mosque in the Arab town of Fureidis, along with a slogan reading "close mosques and not yeshivas," or Jewish seminaries.

He said the Tuesday morning attack appears to be the latest "price tag" incident. The phrase is used by a small group of mostly teenage Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government's pro-Palestinian policies.

Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by vandals in recent years. The acts have been widely condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.

The latest incident happened a few weeks before Pope Francis is set to visit the Holy land and drew rare condemnation from the local Catholic Church.

"There is a grave and increasing frequency of what are called "price tag" attacks, which, in the absence of any real response, are becoming a dangerous phenomenon, threatening one and all," it said.

The Church said that a Bishop received a threatening letter this week on the same day that a church was vandalized. "The time has come to join together in the efforts to root out this dangerous phenomenon from our Holy Land. Officials must prevent the perpetrators from feeling as if they are above the law," it said.

Rosenfeld, the police spokesman, said that a man had been arrested in connection with the threatening letter and was sent for psychological assessment. He said police are still investigating the other vandalism attacks and searching for the perpetrators.