Graffiti sparks West Bank clashes

Palestinians riot after graffiti defaming Muhammad found scrawled on mosque.

Clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians erupted Friday in the West Bank after villagers accused Jewish settlers of scrawling graffiti defaming the Prophet Muhammad on a mosque. Villagers found the graffiti early Friday when they arrived at the mosque in the village of Nabi Elias for morning prayers. The green graffiti called the prophet a pig, the army said. Soldiers and the military's Civil Administration unit removed the graffiti, the army said, but declined to say whom they suspected of vandalizing the mosque. Police will investigate the incident in the coming days, the army said. A group of Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers posted at the entrance to Azzun, a village not far from the Jewish settlement of Karnei Shomron. Soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the youths. No one was injured in the clash. Villagers said it was the second time graffiti against the Prophet Muhammad was scrawled on their mosque. Violent clashes have erupted throughout the Muslim world in protest to cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September.