WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday condemned what it called a "dangerous and provocative" attack on a mosque in a Bedouin village in Israel, calling on law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.

"The United States strongly condemns the dangerous and provocative attacks on a mosque in the northern Israeli town of Tuba Zangaria, which took place on October 3," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"Such hateful sectarian actions are never justified," she added in a statement.

"We endorse stepped-up efforts by law enforcement authorities to act vigorously to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act and similar attacks that have taken place in the West Bank."

Israeli police were on high alert in the north of the country Tuesday following the attack and angry protests by locals.

Vandals torched the mosque and scrawled the words "tag" and "revenge" on the walls. The incident has been blamed on rightwing extremists.

Police called the attack "a very severe price tag incident" -- a term which usually refers to acts of vengeance against Palestinians and their property by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.