Hardline Jewish settlers are blamed for West Bank mosque vandalism
A West Bank mosque has been vandalised and hate messages in Hebrew spray-painted on its walls. Locals are blaming hardline Jews angered by plans to curb settlement building.
AFP - Assailants vandalised a West Bank mosque on Friday, torching its library and spraying hate messages in Hebrew in an attack blamed on hardline Jews angered by plans to curb settlement building.
Clashes erupted as villagers hurled stones at Israeli troops sent to investigate the overnight incident at the mosque in the northern West Bank's Yasuf village. The security forces responded with teargas.
One of the slogans sprayed on a wall read: "Get ready to pay the price." Another read: "We will burn you all."
Village councillors and Palestinian security officials blamed Israelis from a nearby settlement for the attack.
The area is home to some of the most hardline settlers who advocate a "price tag" policy under which they target Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure they see as threatening Jewish settlements.
The Israeli military said "it appears that the suspects wrote hate-filled messages in Hebrew in addition to burning bookshelves and a carpet."
It assured the Palestinian Authority that it "views the incident gravely" and that security forces are working to locate the perpetrators, the statement said.
Last week, a house and three vehicles were set on fire in another village, also near the West Bank city of Nablus. The owner of the house told police he saw three Jewish settlers start the fires.
Settlers have expressed outrage over the government's decision to impose a 10-month moratorium on new building permits for Israeli homes in the occupied West Bank, outside annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
Many settlers consider they have a God-given right to live in the biblical Land of Israel, which includes the West Bank.
But many settlers also distance themselves from the "price tag policy."
Settler leader Danny Dayan condemned the attack on the mosque as "idiotic and outrageous" and harmful to the settlers' cause, according to Israeli public radio.
The settlement issue is one of the thorniest in Middle East peace efforts.