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Mosque in West Bank set ablaze by Israeli settlers

A mosque in the city of Al-Bireh near Ramallah was set on fire and vandalised with graffiti in Hebrew in a suspected hate crime by Israeli settlers last night, reported Wafa news agency.

A Palestinian emergency services official said a bathroom area of Al-Bir and Al-Thsan mosque was burned after flammable liquid was poured through a smashed window before dawn.

Photos from the scene showed charred walls with graffiti that read, “Siege for Arabs, not for Jews” and “the Land of Israel for the people of Israel.”

According to Al-Bireh mayor Azzam Ismail, settlers sneaked into the city during the night and covered the walls of the mosque with racist graffiti before setting parts of it on fire.

Palestinian sources said that residents who noticed the fire managed to put it out before it reached the prayer area in the mosque.

“This is a criminal and racist act and we hold the occupation authority fully responsible for it and for the unruly acts and growing violence of the settlers,” Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Shtayyeh said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

The PA Foreign Ministry added in a statement that it “holds the Israeli government and its prime minister fully and directly responsible for this attack.”

Amir Peretz of Israel’s Labour Party, also condemned the overnight arson attack, reported The Jerusalem Post. He said, “The virus of hate, just like the COVID-19 virus, is an enemy common to all religions and nations of the world.”

“Just as we are all battling to combat the virus, we also have to work together to eradicate the virus of hate. We must do everything possible to avoid additional war.”

Local police said they’ve opened an investigation into the incident and reportedly already blocked off the entrance to the mosque.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, and more than 400,000 settlers now live there among some 3 million Palestinians.

Examples of settler violence against the indigenous population include arson attacks on homes, businesses and mosques; stone-throwing and the uprooting of crops and olive trees.