Palestinians reported that hate graffiti had been spraypainted on a mosque in the West Bank village of Bani Na’im on Monday.
Slogans including “pricetag” and “Yitzhar” – a Jewish outpost in the West Bank where the IDF demolished two structures last week – were spray-painted in Hebrew on the mosque walls. There were also insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammed, according to Palestinian reports.
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Police sent a forensic team to the site to collect evidence, after coordinating the visit with the IDF.
The graffiti, which was the only damage to the building, was sprayed on the exterior walls of the mosque, according to Israel Radio.
According to Bani Na’im Mayor Redwan Munasra, the attack is the first of its kind in the Palestinian village of just over 20,000 people.
According to the Palestinian news agency Safa, he said that it was clear that youths from Mitzpe Yitzhar were responsible for the damage.
He also noted that the incident occurred the same night that the village celebrated the return of four Palestinian prisoners freed in the second phase of the prisoner-swap deal Israel brokered with Hamas to free Gilad Schalit.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the attack on the mosque.
“These are pure criminal acts. They must be stopped,” he said. “I ask our Israeli neighbors to stand up to these thugs and terrorists. They have nothing to do with Judaism, Christianity or Islam,” he told journalists Monday night in Beit Jala.
The vandalism is the latest in a string of such acts against Arabs over the destruction of settlement property in Judea and Samaria. Last Thursday, the IDF razed two illegally constructed buildings in the Mitzpe Yitzhar outpost. Hours later, a mosque in the Palestinian village of Burka was torched.
The graffiti brings into focus growing tensions among settlers in the West Bank over government-mandated demolitions of buildings constructed illegally on private Palestinian land. Settler activists have expressed anger at the government for expelling Jews from land many of them feel they obtained and developed legally.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.