Middle East News
Israeli settlers set West Bank mosque on fire
Jun 7, 2011, 7:59 GMT
Ramallah - Radical Israeli settlers set fire to a mosque in a northern West Bank village overnight, causing serious damage, a local official said Tuesday.
Faraj Na'san, the head of the Mughayyer village council, north-east of Ramallah, said residents discovered the vandalism when they headed to the mosque in the early hours of Tuesday to perform dawn prayers.
'Settlers poured a large quantity of gasoline on the carpet and threw in a tyre set on fire to burn down the mosque,' he said.
The fire gutted most of the mosque carpets and a section of the mosque, but did not spread.
The settlers also wrote graffiti in Hebrew on the mosque wall outside, reading 'price tag' and 'Alei Ayin.'
Alei Ayin is an unauthorized settlers outpost nearby, set up by radical Jews without Israeli government approval.
Israeli police tore down four illegal buildings in the outpost a week ago, sparking clashes with the settlers, who confronted and scuffled with the police. Six Israeli policemen and five Israeli settlers were lightly injured, Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Radical settlers have vowed revenge for each demolition of an illegal outpost by the Israeli government. They have chosen to do so by vandalizing Palestinian property, including orchards, a policy they call 'price tag.'
Police believed the settlers from the uprooted outpost were behind the arson.
'Israeli police forensics arrived at the scene in order to look at the damage that was caused and take evidence from the scene,' Rosenfeld told the German Press Agency dpa.
He said that several hours after the incident, no arrests had yet been made, but the investigation was ongoing.
Council head Na'san said Israeli settlers had, in the past, regularly vandalized village orchards during the olive harvest season in October, but never the mosque, located on the outskirts of Mughayyer on a road regularly used by them.
Ramallah Governor Laila Ghannam said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the mosque arson and ordered its immediate repair.