A group of Israeli settlers broke in and torched a mosque in the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyir near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank early Wednesday, locals told Ma’an news agency, hours after settlers attempted to assault several Palestinian security officers in Nablus.
Witnesses, who went to the mosque at around 4:40 am to perform dawn prayers, said the settlers burnt 12 copies of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, and set the carpets of the first floor of the two-story building on fire.
Racist slogans, such as “Death to Arabs,” were also spray painted on the walls of the mosque, witnesses added.
The same mosque has been targeted by Israeli settlers before, locals told Ma’an.
“Every time the mosque is torched, the (Israeli) occupation police conduct an investigation just for show, and never arrest a single settler,” one resident said.
Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister Yousef Adeis said that the mosque torching was proof of “racist Israeli incitement” against Muslim and Christian houses of worship.
“This crime constitutes blatant aggression against Muslims and Muslim sentiments,” Adeis said in a statement, adding that in October alone settlers carried out 110 separate attacks on religious sites across the Palestinian territories.
Adeis also called on international Islamic organizations, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as Muslim and Arab nations, to work together to end Israeli violations against Muslim houses of worship.
Wednesday’s incident is the latest in a series of attacks carried out by the settlers against mosques in the occupied West Bank.
This year, in January and October, two mosques were set ablaze in the West Bank, and in 2012, settlers torched the entrance of a mosque near the city of Nablus.
Racist Hebrew script reading “price tag” or “Arabs out!” were also sprayed on the walls of the mosques.
On Tuesday, Israeli settlers smashed the windshields of more than 30 Palestinian vehicles and damaged other Palestinian properties during a rally on the main road south of Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Witnesses said that settlers also sprayed racist slogans, such as “No cars for Arabs” and “No terror attacks,” on a sidewalk.
Also on Tuesday, dozens of Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement in southern Nablus attempted to assault several Palestinian security officers after they parked their car on the road at the entrance of the settlement.
Zakariya al-Sadda, a human rights activist with Rabbis for Human Rights, told Ma’an that Israeli settlers forced five officers from Palestinian security forces to stop while on their way to Ramallah to take part in a festival celebrating the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.
The Palestinian Liaison Department intervened and solved the issue, Sadda said, adding that the Palestinian officers left the settlement’s entrance after dozens of settlers gathered and attempted to assault them.
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is systematic and often abetted by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there were at least 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2013.
Israeli authorities have also allowed Zionist settlers to take over homes in Palestinian neighborhoods both in annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank, announced plans to build thousands of settlements strictly for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem while ignoring Palestinian residents.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Source: Al-Akhbar English