Settlers suspected of torching Palestinian mosque
Arsonists spray walls with words 'we will burn you all' and 'price tag' – settler slogan for reprisal acts against settlement evacuation efforts. IDF says mosque door and rug damaged, while Palestinians claim entire library including books of Koran destroyed
Fire was set to a large mosque in the West Bank Palestinian village of Yasuf, east of Salfit, Thursday night. Hebrew slurs were sprayed on the walls that said: "We will burn all of you." The words "price tag" were also scrawled on the walls.
"Price tag" is the slogan adopted some months ago by extremist settlers who carry out reprisals against Palestinians in response to the evacuation of settlement structures by Israeli defense forces.
The Palestinians are pointing fingers at settlers in the area as the main culprits. Following a complaint, a joint investigation was launched that includes security forces in the area. The defense establishment said to Ynet that they view this as a serious offense and intend to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The ruined carpets (Photo: AP)
A complaint was issued Thursday night by residents of the village of Yasuf about damage caused to a mosque. Police and military forces, as well as Civil Administration officials, arrived on the spot. The police launched an investigation.
Civil Administration Chief Brig. Gen. Yoav (Pauli) Mordechai) contacted his counterparts in the Palestinian security apparatus to explain to them how to the investigation was being run and to offer his help.
Salfit Council head Abdel Rahim Musleh said that the arsonists torched the second floor of the mosque in the center of the village after they sprayed graffiti at the entrance and poured gasoline inside. Musleh said the fire consumed the mosque library that contained books of the Koran. The defense establishment, on the other hand, reported that the door to the mosque was damaged and a carpet was burned.
Local residents reportedly hurried to put on the fire.
Musleh added that the settlers sprayed Hebrew graffiti on the mosque floor that read: "We will burn all of you."
Palestinian security officials arrived on the spot along with representatives from the District Coordinating Office and the governor of Salfit. Palestinian security sources reported to the Maan news agency that they believe settlers from the Tapuah settlement are behind the arson.
United Arab List – Ta'al faction Chairman Ahmad Tibi said after the incident, "The defense minister and the military should be held responsible for this crime, and settlers' ongoing unlawfulness against the Palestinians. The village of Yasuf in next to the settlement of Tapuach."
Extremist settlers initiated their "price tag" attacks a few months ago. They included setting fire to Palestinian fields and damaging houses or vehicles.
The defense establishment estimates that this current "price tag" reprisal came in response to the 10-month building moratorium imposed on West Bank settlements by the cabinet. They expressed their concern that the situation would worsen.
Efrat Weiss and Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report