UN, Palestinians condemn price tag attack on West Bank mosque

The mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, also condemned the mosque arson and blamed the Israeli authorities.

February 25, 2015 22:15
1 minute read.
robert serry abbas

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry in Ramallah July 6, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The United Nations and Palestinians condemned the torching of a mosque in the West Bank village of Al-Jab’a before dawn Wednesday, in what police believe is likely an act of vandalism carried out by far-right extremists.

“I am concerned by this and all other religiously motivated attacks and provocations by any party, which may further inflame an already volatile environment,” said UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry.

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“Extremists on both sides must not be allowed to turn this conflict into a religious one,” he warned.

The arson attack coincided with the anniversary of massacre of 29 Muslim worshipers by Baruch Goldstein at the Ibrahimi Mosque, or Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron.

The PA Foreign Ministry said that Wednesday’s arson was part of an “onslaught against mosques and Islamic and Christian holy sites.”

Judea and Samaria police said their anti-nationalist crimes unit is investigating the fire and the Hebrew graffiti found at the scene in the village near Bethlehem.

No one was hurt in the overnight attack in which the mosque’s windows were broken and something burning was thrown inside, Mayor No’man Hamdan said.

“God’s mercy and people’s alertness when the fire started prevented it from consuming the entire mosque. Part of the carpets burned,” he told Reuters.

Hebrew slogans had been scrawled on the walls, including “Revenge for the Land of Zion” and “Price Tag”, a phrase used by extremist Jewish vandals when they carry out hate crimes against Palestinian targets.

The PA Foreign Ministry claimed that the attacks were part of a “studied official Israeli attempt to foment sectarian strife and solidify the meaning of religious war in Palestine.”

The ministry held the Israeli government responsible for the “racist and fascist” attacks and called on the international community to provide protection to the Palestinians.

The mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, also condemned the mosque arson and blamed the Israeli authorities.

“The occupation authorities have turned Palestinian holy sites into an election card for extremist settlers,” he said.

“The attacks on mosques are part of a systematic policy to inflame the conflict.”

Ben Hartman and Reuters contributed to this report.

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