Vandals set fire to a storage room in a West Bank Palestinian girls school early
Wednesday morning and scrawled a Hebrew message on a nearby wall: “Greetings
from the hilltops.”
Palestinians have accused a group of young settlers,
known as the Hilltop Youth, of setting the fire to the room, which had been
stacked with furniture.
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The whole building could have been burned, but
luckily the blaze caused plastic water pipes to melt in the room, said Zachary
Fabda, a Palestinian field worker for Rabbis for Human Rights who later in the
day visited the school in As-Sawiya, near Nablus in the Samaria
The water extinguished the fire; when the school staff arrived,
they found an open gate and the burnt out room, said Fabda.
believe the settlers managed to enter and leave the village before dawn without
anyone noticing. Later in the day female pupils staged a small protest outside
their school in which they held up a sign which stated, “No fear, No tear, We
stay on our land.”
This was the second arson attack this month allegedly
perpetuated by settlers. Two weeks ago vandals entered the Palestinian village
of Beit Fajar in the Gush Etzion Region and set fire to a mosque and to copies
of the Koran. The blaze damaged the mosque but did not destroy it.
vandals also scrawled Hebrew graffiti on the mosque wall which stated “Revenge”
and “Price Tag.”
Extremist settlers have in the last few years instituted
a “price tag” policy in which they damage Palestinian property to protest
actions by Israeli Security Forces or Palestinian attacks against Jews. Rabbis
for Human Rights has called on settler rabbis to take a firm stand against such
The Civil Administration said it had received reports of
Wednesday’s arson attack on the school.
Its officials met with
Palestinian representatives following the incident. “The area is currently
calm,” a security source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday
The Judea and Samaria police could not be reached for
Senior IDF officers in the Central Command warned of the growing
escalation in anti-Palestinian violence.
The arson attack on the school,
they said, stood out since it was not carried out in ostensible response to IDF
action against the settlers.
At about the same time as the arson attack,
the IDF demolished several structures built illegally in an outpost near the
settlement of Bat Ayin in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, but IDF officers said
that since the demolitions happened at the same time the arson attack was likely
not an act of revenge.
One of the structures housed a family with a small
child. The family was awakened in the middle of the night to find that border
police had surrounded their home.
On Wednesday settlers, with the help of
the organization Women in Green, began to rebuild the outpost.
been a clear escalation in recent months in the level of settler violence
against Palestinians,” a senior IDF officer said on Wednesday.
officials have said that the current olive harvest season is the most violent in
years and has been marred by suspicions that hundreds of trees have been
vandalized by settler youth throughout the West Bank. Some of the trees were cut
down and others were poisoned.
In one case, last week, IDF troops
captured two settlers near the settlement of Talmon who had come from Kiryat
Arba and were caught with sacks full of olives which they had allegedly picked
from Palestinian groves. After being brought to court, the settlers were
released, however, since the IDF could not prove that the olives in the sacks
actually came from the trees in the grove where they were apprehended.