In the wake of ongoing clashes between the Israeli authorities and the Palestinians, a Bituach Leumi (national insurance, or social security) office in the Wadi Joz neighborhood in East Jerusalem was set ablaze Wednesday night. Trees in front of the office caught fire, causing extensive damage to the building but no injuries. Firefighters were called to the scene and quickly extinguished the fire.
Police are investigating and said they have not ruled out any motive, including nationalistically motivated arson. Palestinian news sources are reporting that the fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail being thrown at the building.
The Wadi Joz neighborhood has been the scene of ongoing clashes between Palestinians and police over the Temple Mount security measures. Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians began July 14 when three Palestinian terrorists killed two Druze Israeli police officers near the Temple Mount.
The site was closed to Muslims until the following Sunday, when it was reopened with increased security measures that included walk-through metal detectors. Muslim authorities called for a boycott of the site and violent riots ensued. Last Friday, three Palestinians were killed in the riots. On Friday evening, a Palestinian terrorist entered the Jewish community of Halamish and murdered three members of a family.
The Israeli government removed the metal detectors overnight on Monday. Despite the Israeli government giving in to their demands, the Muslim authority called off Thursday morning prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque, leading to concerns of increased riots on Friday, when Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount are attended by thousands.