A Palestinian mosque near the West Bank city of Ramallah was set on fire overnight in an apparent extremist attack, local media reported.
The mosque in Al-Bireh was also daubed with graffiti declaring “this land is for the Jews” and “siege to the Arabs”, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh slammed the blaze as a “racist attack” by suspected Jewish settlers.
“We hold the occupation authority [Israel] fully responsible for it and for the unruly acts and growing violence of the settlers,” Shtayyeh said.
Israeli Economic Minister Amir Peretz called for the “hatemongers” behind the attack to be “brought to justice”.
Arson and vandalism on Palestinian properties by extremist Israeli settlers are commonly referred to as “price tag” attacks, a euphemism for fundamentalist hate crimes, but arrests of suspects are rare.
Although top Israeli officials and even settler leaders have disavowed such attacks, calling them “immoral”, the Palestinian Authority considers Israel – which occupies the West Bank and handles security – ultimately responsible for the rampant hate crimes.
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.
“Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely,” wrote Palestinian author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.
“Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation,” according to the Human Rights Group B’tselem. “Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinian casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks”.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle