AL-MUGHAYYIR, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Vandals tried to set fire to a mosque in the northern West Bank, causing damage to the inside, Palestinian security sources said on Tuesday, blaming Jewish settlers.
The attackers set fire to a number of tyres inside the mosque in al-Mughayyir village, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Ramallah, which damaged prayer mats inside the building.
They also spray painted anti-Arab slogans and the words “Alei Ayin” on the walls, which is the name of a nearby settlement outpost demolished by Israeli police last week, sparking fierce clashes with the settlers.
An army spokeswoman confirmed the mosque had been torched, saying the military administration had received a complaint from residents and had sent a team of forensic experts to search for clues.
“The IDF (military) takes very seriously any attempts to vandalise sacred places,” a spokesman said.
Hardline settlers have adopted what they call a “price tag” policy under which they attack Palestinians, their fields or villages, whenever the Israeli government takes measures to curb settlement construction.
Israel considers settlement outposts built in the West Bank without government approval to be illegal, and often sends security personnel to demolish them. They usually consist of little more than a few trailers.
The international community considers all settlements built in the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan 44 years ago during the 1967 Six Day War, to be illegal.