Palestinian mosque set ablaze in West Bank

No one claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell upon Jewish settlers.

Ramallah: Arsonists torched a West Bank mosque early on Tuesday and scrawled Hebrew graffiti on one of its walls.

The Palestinian mayor of el-Mughayer village said a tire was set ablaze inside the mosque in an apparent attempt to burn down the building.

No one claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell upon Jewish settlers, both because they have carried out similar acts in the past and because the graffiti read, "Price tag, Aley Ayin."

"Price tag" is a settler practice of attacking Palestinians in revenge for Israeli government operations against settlers. Aley Ayin is a small, unauthorized settler outpost that was evacuated by security forces last week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the act, calling it "a heinous act of provocation."

The US also condemned the burning and vandalizing of the mosque.

"This attack is the latest of several such acts of violence against West Bank mosques," deputy State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said. "These incidents have served to undermine efforts to promote a comprehensive peace in the region."

"We call on the Israeli government to investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, and for calm from all parties," he added.

UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry noted Netanyahu`s condemnation.

Serry called on Israel to "ensure the accountability of those responsible and protect the human rights of Palestinians and their property."

Mayor Faraj al-Nassan said villagers discovered the fire when they went to the mosque for morning prayers.

Prayer rugs were burned, but the fire did not spread extensively.

Bureau Report

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