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Military sources said in response, "Apart from the moral failing, this type of event presents real danger to the security enjoyed by the settlers."
Slogan on mosque reads 'Ulpana war' (Photo: Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the act, saying "It is an act of intolerant and irresponsible hooligans and we will act swiftly to bring them to justice."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also commented on the incident, saying "it is a deplorable act, which is aimed at harming the fabric of life in the area and distract the IDF and security forces from their mission. I have instructed the IDF to use all measures to apprehend the assailants."
Torched mosque (Photo: Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem)
Yesha Council head Danny Dayan also condemned the act and did not rule out the possibility that settlers were involved in the event.
'We'll rebuild burnt mosques'
Many of the villagers gathered outside the mosque Tuesday morning where IDF and police forces also assembled. "They (the perpetrators) should know that if they get caught doing this they could be killed," said one of the residents. "They should be careful."
Council head Abdul Karim Shraf said that the arson was first discovered at around 1:30 am. "Three-hundred people went over to help. We then found out that graffiti was sprayed on the walls, racist slurs. We weren't surprised, this is what the settlers do – torch and desecrate houses of worship."
Residents gather outside mosque (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
One of the residents, Mohammed Thawam, said that inside the mosque they found max boxes with Hebrew writing. "A small part of the mosque had been burned," he said. "We put out the fire 15 minutes after first detecting it." He said that police and army forces arrived at the scene at 5 am and began investigating the incident.
Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister Mahmoud al-Habash arrived at the village to assess the damage and said that PA will restore the mosque. "The only solution is that the settlers leave our land," he said. "We started putting cameras in mosques and establishing popular committees to protect them."
'We shall protect our mosques' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Al-Habash accused Israeli politicians and religious leader of encouraging these types of occurrences. "Israeli religious leaders incite and give the green light for these actions against the Palestinian people but we shall hold on to our land and restore all that has been destroyed. Even if you burn a mosque or 1,000 trees every day, we shall rebuild and replant them."
Ulpana eviction raises concerns
Last week, the tires of four cars belonging to east Jerusalem residents parked near Shufat were punctured. The word "Ulpana" was found painted over one of the cars.
Several days earlier, the tires of 14 vehicles were punctured in the integrated community of Neve Shalom. The words "Death to Arabs" "Revenge" and "Regards from the Ulpana" were spray-painted on three cars.
The slogan "Regards from Havat Gilad, revenge" was also found on the wall of an elementary school.
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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