Barak: Mosque arson attack intended to harm peace

Arsonists set fire to Ramallah mosque, scrawl graffiti on walls in suspected "price tag" attack; Abbas orders refurbishing of mosque.

Barak 58 reuters (photo credit: Reuters)
Barak 58 reuters
(photo credit: Reuters)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday strongly condemned the arson of a Ramallah mosque earlier in the day.
The defense minister ordered the IDF and security forces to take any measures necessary to capture the perpetrators.
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In an official statement, Barak said "This criminal act is intended to inflame passions and to harm the potential for people to live side by side in peace. I believe that the IDF and security forces will do everything they can to find the perpetrators of this malicious act."
Police have launched an investigation into the mosque arson attack. Palestinians from the village of al-Muayar, near Ramallah reported that a carpet in the mosque was set fire in the early hour of Tuesday morning. "A joint police IDF investigation was launched.
"We believe suspects set fire to a tire inside the mosque," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The attackers daubed the walls with the words "price tag", Rosenfeld said, a phrase right-wing settlers have adopted to signal retribution for any Israeli moves against settlement-outposts built without government authorization.
However, "no fire damage was observed on the walls," he added. A police forensics team arrived on the scene and began taking evidence.
The words "Alei Ayin," the name of a settlement outpost which was evacuated by security forces last week, were also scrawled on the walls. The evacuation of Alei Ayin sparked a clash resulting in several injuries among right-wing activists and police.
Police suspect the arson incident could be linked to last week's outpost clearance.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday asked the governor of Ramallah Laila Ghannam to order the refurbishing of the vandalized mosque, Ma'an reported.
The report also said the grand mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein condemned the vandalism and arson of the mosque. He was quoted by Ma'an as saying: "The attack on this mosque is part of a systematic policy aiming to flame the conflict and show disrespect to the religious and human values of others." staff contributed to this report.