US condemns 'price-tag' attacks on W. Bank mosques

US State Department says Israel must arrest culprits; Palestinian sources report new vandalism at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
September 10, 2011 01:55
2 minute read.
Graffiti on a mosque near Nablus, Monday

price tag graffiti mosque 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)

 
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As Palestinian sources reported a new "price-tag" attack at the Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, the United States on Friday condemned incidents of vandalism at mosques in the West Bank, calling them "hateful" and demanding that the culprits be arrested.

"The US strongly condemns the dangerous and provocative attacks on the mosques in the Palestinian villages of Yatma on September 8 and Qusra on September 5. Such hateful actions are never justified. Those responsible should be arrested and subject to the full force of the law," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Friday.

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"We note that the Israeli government likewise condemned the attacks and instructed law enforcement authorities to act vigorously to bring those responsible to justice," she added, warning against the "potential for escalation."

"Violence will not advance, but will impede, the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on acceptance and respect," Nuland said.


Adding to a string of"price-tag" attacks, Palestinian sources on Friday reported another suspected incident at the Bir Zeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank.

According to sources, slogans written in Hebrew against the Prophet Muhammad and calling for the killing of Arabs were sprayed on the wall on the western side of the university and the mosque in a nearby town.

On Thursday, the IDF informed police of new 'price tag' attacks launched by suspected far right elements on Palestinian targets in the West Bank. 

In the first incident, a mosque in the West Bank village of Yitma, near Nablus, was vandalized with graffiti. In the second incident, two Palestinian vehicles were torched in the village of Kablan.

Police and IDF forces were preparing to enter the crime scenes to collect evidence.

Police are becoming increasingly concerned by far-right attacks in the area, and announced the establishment of a special task force on Wednesday to track down those behind "price tag" attacks.

On Wednesday, vandals broke into an army base outside the Beit El settlement, slashing tires and breaking windows on 13 vehicles. It was the first such "price-tag" attack against the IDF, and drew major condemnation from the government.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said
“This was an abhorrent crime directed against commanders and vehicles, the mission of which is to protect the lives of Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria.”

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In the past, right-wing extremists have punctured the tires of military jeeps, torched a military vehicle and even thrown a fire bomb at one, but they have never infiltrated a base.

On Tuesday morning, the night after the IDF razed three homes in the Migron outpost, settlers set fire to property in a mosque near Nablus.

The state destroyed the homes after a petition filed to the High Court claimed that they were built following an agreement that the whole outpost would be moved to neighboring Adam. The High Court ruled that the Migron settlement was illegally constructed on Palestinian land.

Yaakov Lappin and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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