(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police have launched an investigation into an arson attack on a West Bank mosque
by suspected far-right activists on Monday morning, hours after three homes at
the Migron outpost were demolished by the IDF.
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Palestinians told the
IDF’s Civil Administration that windows were smashed and tires were burned
inside the empty mosque in the village of Qusara, south of Nablus.
vandals spray-painted messages in Hebrew saying, “Social justice for Alei Ayin
and Migron” (Alei Ayin is another outpost that was recently demolished) and
“Muhammad is a pig” on the walls of the mosque. A Star of David was also
The Civil Administration contacted Judea and Samaria
police, which launched an investigation and sent forensic officers to retrieve
samples from the building.
A police spokeswoman said the mosque was not
in use and “did not have any holy books inside.” The incident touched off a wave
of furious responses from both Israeli and Palestinian
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor told Israel Radio he
hoped the perpetrators would swiftly be brought to justice, adding that the
attack on a mosque made him ashamed “as a Jew.”
Meridor said that the
targeting of a religious symbol was a highly dangerous and foolish act during
such a sensitive and volatile period in the region.
The Palestinian Authority claimed on
Monday that the torching of the mosque, as well as continued construction in the
settlements and east Jerusalem, is aimed at thwarting the PA leadership’s plan
to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state later this
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas,
said that these actions “show that Israel continues to reject peace.” He urged
the international community to intervene with Israel to halt such practices,
which he said were in violation of international law.
The PA mufti,
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, strongly condemned the arson which, he claimed, took
place under the watch of the Israeli authorities. He pointed out that Monday’s
incident was the third of its kind against a mosque in the West Bank in recent
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the mosque
attack as an act of terrorism.
“These acts are what threaten to pull the
region into a cycle of violence,” Fayyad’s office said in a statement, adding
that the Palestinians themselves would not revert to violence.
seized upon the incident to call for an end to PA security coordination with
Israel, and said peace negotiations should not be restarted.
spokesman Sami Abu Zahri said in a statement that the Islamist group sees the
attack as dangerous “escalation.”
Palestinian sources added that rocks
were thrown at Palestinian civilian traffic south of Nablus on Monday morning,
Israel Radio reported.
In July, Palestinians from the village of al-
Muayar, near Ramallah, reported that a carpet in a mosque was set fire. In that
attack, vandals daubed the walls with the words “price tag,” a phrase right-wing
activists have adopted to signal retribution for any Israeli demolitions in
In that attack too, the words “Alei Ayin,” referring to the
outpost that was evacuated by security forces the week before the incident, were
scrawled on the walls.Tovah Lazaroff and Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.