'Arsonists' torch mosque in occupied West Bank

"Arsonists" torched a mosque in the north of the occupied West Bank before dawn, burning holy books and prayer carpets in an attack blamed Jewish settlers.

'Arsonists' torch mosque in occupied West Bank

"Arsonists" torched a mosque in the north of the occupied West Bank before dawn on Tuesday, burning holy books and prayer carpets in an attack blamed Jewish settlers.

The mosque, located in Lubban ash-Sharqiya some 10 kilometres (six miles) south of Nablus, was largely destroyed in the attack, said the town's mayor, Jamal Daraghma.

Settlers have stepped up their attacks on Palestinian property in recent months following global calls to end ongoing illegal settlements in the occupied lands.

The World Court has ruled all settlements illegal under international law.

Eyewitnesses told Palestinian news agency, a group of settlers entered the mosque, gathered flammables and set them alight in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Head of the local council of Al-Lubban, Jamal Daraghma told Maan agency, residents living adjacent to the mosque heard cars approaching the building at 3am. The residents saw the group tear curtains from the walls and throw several copies of the Qur'an into a pile on the mosque floor and set the pile aflame.

The village is surrounded by three settlements: Eli, Shilo, and Ma’ale Levona, and according to Daraghma, the abutting illegal communities consumed more than 30% of the village lands, confiscated to build the settlements.

As the blaze was set, locals called fire and rescue teams, which arrived on the scene to douse the flames. Officials said the mosque was badly damaged, and police said an investigation into the arson was initiated.

However, Israeli media reported, the Civil Administration, Israel's civilian government authority in the occupied West Bank, says it is investigating the fire. Israeli media report that the fire could have been the result of an electrical malfunction.

Last month, a mosque in the village of Huwarawas vandalised. Residents found graffiti, including a Star of David, scrawled on the walls.

Two weeks later, settlers were blamed for uprooting hundreds of olive trees and burning several cars in the same village.

And in December, settlers burned a mosquein the village of Yasuf.

The Israeli army said last month that it would establish a task force to investigate these so-called price tag attacks.

Vandals occasionally spray-paint the words "price tag" on buildings and cars, suggesting that the attacks are the "price" for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb the growth of illegal settlements.

Agencies

Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2010, 12:13
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